Monday, February 17, 2014

Pope Francis Warns: Gossip Can Kill

The Roman parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Infernetto, in the south of the diocese, received a visit from Pope Francis yesterday afternoon. 

Upon arrival the Bishop of Rome met with the children who will receive Communion and Confirmation this year, and greeted the faithful in the parish square, along with recently baptized children and their parents, the elderly and sick of the parish and the Association of families with disabled children, and before the Holy Mass he confessed a number of penitents.

“Once upon a time, Jesus' disciples ate wheat, because they were hungry; but it was the sabbath and on the sabbath it was not permitted to eat grain”, said the Pope in his homily. “The pharisees said, 'Look at what they are doing! He who does this runs counter to the law and soils his soul, because he does not obey'. And Jesus answered, 'That which comes from outside does not soil the soul; it that which comes from inside, from your heart, that may soil the soul'. 

"And I think it is good for us, nowadays, to think not of whether or not our souls are pure or unclean, but to ask what there is within our hearts; what do I have within, that I know I have, and which no-one else knows. What is in our heart? Is there love? Do I love my parents, my children, my wife, my husband, the people in my neighbourhood, the sick? Do I love them? And is there hate in my heart? Do I hate anyone? Because often we find that there is also hate. 'I love everyone, apart from this one, that one, or the other ...'. This is hate, isn't it?”

“What do I have in my heart?” he continued. “Is there forgiveness? Do I have an attitude of forgiveness towards those who have wronged me, or is there an attitude of revenge? … We must ask ourselves what we have inside, because what we have inside comes out and causes harm, if it is bad; if it is good, it comes out and does good. And it is beautiful to be truthful with ourselves, and to be ashamed of ourselves when we realise we are in a situation that is not as God would wish”.

The Pope commented that in today's Gospel, Jesus says, “'You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill ... But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement'. And whoever insults his brother, kills him in his heart; whoever gossips maliciously about his brother, kills him in his heart. Perhaps we are not aware of this … we gossip about this and that … and this is what is means to kill one's brother. To understand one's brother, to understand people, means to love, and to forgive: it is to understand, to forgive, and to be patient”.

“We must ask the Lord for two graces”, concluded Pope Francis. “The first is to know what is in our hearts, so as not to be deceived. The second is to do the good that is in our hearts, and not the ill that lies therein. And speaking of 'killing', to remember that words may kill. Our ill-will towards others can also kill. … It often seems that the sins of slander and defamation have been removed from the Decalogue, and speaking ill of a person is a sin. … Let us always ask the Lord to help us to love our neighbors. And if we cannot love a person, why not? Then we must pray for that person, in order that the Lord might help me wish him well. And we must continue in this way, aware that our life is rendered impure by the ill-will that comes from our hearts”.

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