Vatican Radio is reporting that Pope Francis focused on the sin of gossip during his Sept. 13 homily at Domus Sanctae Marthae. He began his reflection with the words of Jesus who asks in Matthew 7:3: “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? . . . You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first . . .”
“Gossip always has a criminal side to it,” he said. “There is no such thing as innocent gossip.”
When we gossip, we imitate the homicidal act of Cain when he killed his brother Abel, which makes us “Christian murderers”.
“It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord,” Pope Francis said. “And there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. And every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Cain, the first murderer in history.”
The pope also points out the strong word Jesus used to describe gossipers – hypocrite.
“Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings,” the pope said.
“The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness”.
Gossip is never warranted, the pope warned. Instead, we should pray for those brothers and sisters rather than to “kill God” by killing the “image of God” in our brother.
“Go and pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to that person who may be able to seek remedy for the problem. But don’t tell everyone! Paul had been a sinner, and he says of himself: I was once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man. But I have been mercifully treated. Perhaps none of us are blasphemer – perhaps… But if we ever gossip we are certainly persecutors and violent.”
He closed with a prayer for grace, “so that we and the entire Church may convert from the crime of gossip to love, to humility, to meekness, to docility, to the generosity of love towards our neighbor.”
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