The courage to use words, to put the word into action - Vatican News (2023)

The words are important. Jesus says we will be held accountable for every careless word. Perhaps Christians need to listen more closely to what God's Word tells us about the use of words.

Sergio Centofanti - Ciudad del Vaticano

Certainly the tone of many public debates would change if Christians put God's word better into practice. For example, what would our comments andbe reflectionsas if we were practicing this word of St. Paul?

"No corrupt tongue comes out of your mouth, but only that which is good for the necessary edification, so that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption, merciful, forgive one another as God forgave you in Christ.”(Epheser 4:29-32).

"They bite and eat"

Beginning with social media, new and old forms of media, websites and blogs, Christians do not lead by example. How often, alongside legitimate confrontation, justified criticism and friendly irony, do we see malicious and inflated accusations, mockery, ridicule, offensive sarcasm, endless slanders (which in the end remain slanders even after recantations). How would this style change if we heard the Apostle's accusations?

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, namely: Love your neighbor as yourself. So I say live by the Spirit and you will certainly not satisfy the lusts of the flesh.(Galatians 5:14-16).

Does bad news really sell better than good news?

If Christians practiced the Word of God, how would it change the way we communicated? Wouldn't it sell just as well since bad news gets more viewers and sells better? Some time ago, on a sports program, fans of opposing teams once insulted and insulted each other. All this just to sell the show. The teams idolized by the fans have gained nothing with it. Are we Christians really interested in the church, this people of sinners, all of us, that God wants to save?

the vanity of words

Of course we Christians are not free from the sins of self-aggrandizement, narcissism, egocentricity and vanity. Often the focus of our comments is ourselves, not our wordsÖWord: We increase and Jesus decreases. We become great like Saint Paul, who called Saint Peter because of his hypocrisy (we are all a bit like Saint Paul), we become saints like Catherine of Siena, who wrote fiery letters to the Pope (but sweetened him Christ on earth named), We become judges, based on the “knowledge, competence and reputation that [we] possess” (Code of Canon Law, 212 §3) to accuse and condemn the “pastors of the church”, we become interpreters of visions and prophecies, deciphering the mysteries of mystical visions, we become special guests of the Lord to redeem the church from its own shame. We rise and perhaps deserve Christ's rapture: "These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mt 15:8).

show honor to each other

How would the tone of our reflections change if we took seriously this famous admonition of St. Paul, until we excel in honor.

“Let love be real; hate the bad, cling to the good; love one another with mutual affection; surpass one another in honor... Bless those who persecute you; bless them and don't curse them. Do not return evil for evil, but consider what is noble in the eyes of all.(Romans 12:9-17).

sincerity without charity

There are times whenParrhesia, that is, open speech, is necessary. But if it's without love:

"When I speak in tongues of men and angels and have no love, I am a clanging metal or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; If I have all the faith to move mountains but don't have love, I'm nothing. … Love is patient, love is kind. He is not jealous, he is not boastful, he is not arrogant, he is not rude, he does not look out for his own interests, he does not get angry, he does not take blame,6 he does not rejoice in injustice, but he does rejoice about the truth.”(1 Corinthians 13:1-2, 4-6).

Know how to speak with respect

Many wars have been fought in the name of truth. But since this is not enough, we continue with verbal violence. How would our language change if we listened to Saint Peter?

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to explain the reason for your hope to anyone who asks you, but do so with kindness and reverence."(1 Peter 3:15ff.).

Words that cut like knives, words that heal

The use of language is a theme that is prominent in the Bible, even in the Old Testament. There are a variety of sources:

From the Book of Proverbs: “The foolish speaker is defeated” (10:8); "Where words are many, there is no lack of sin, but those who restrain their lips do good" (10:19); "The gossip of a few is like the blow of a sword, but the tongue of the wise heals" (12:18); “Those who shut up keep their mouths shut; he who opens his lips wide brings destruction” (13:3); "A gentle answer drives away anger, but a harsh word causes anger to arise" (15:1); "A comforting tongue is a tree of life, but a perverted tongue breaks the spirit" (15:4); “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; whoever chooses one shall eat its fruit” (18:21); "Do not answer fools according to their folly, lest you also become like them" (26:4).

From the Book of Sirach: “Don't be double-dealing; and do not slander your neighbor with your tongue” (5:14); "Do not fight with blasphemers and do not pour wood on their fire" (8:3); "Whoever speaks is feared in his city, and whoever speaks lightly is hated" (9:18); "Before you are judged, examine yourself" (18:20); "The mind of a fool is in their mouth, but the mouth of the wise is in their mind" (21:26); "When the wicked curse their adversary,they actually curse themselves” (21:27); "Slanderers defile themselves and are hated by their neighbors" (21:28); "Don't accustom your mouth to harsh words" (23:13); "Those who are accustomed to using abusive language will never gain discipline in their lives" (23:15). When we have finished reading such texts, we say: The word of the Lord.

We will be responsible for every careless word.

The words are important. Jesus says they reveal what is in the heart. We will be responsible for every word:

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good person draws good from a reservoir of good, but a bad person draws evil from a reservoir of evil. I tell you that on Judgment Day people will give an account for every frivolous word they utter. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."(Mt 12, 34-37).

Allegations against Jesus: transgressors and demonic possession

If we lightly judge others, we should remember that Jesus was accused of blasphemy, undermining tradition, breaking the law, and even possessing demons. How would our words change if we heard his word?

“Judge not lest you be judged, for by the judgment you give you will be judged, and by the measure you give will be the measure you will receive. The ray in your own eye? … Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does the will of my Father in heaven. In that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and work many wonders in your name? And then I'll tell them, 'I've never met them; Get away from me, you criminals."(Mt 7, 1-3; 21-23).

Only in silence can we hear the voice of God

The risk Christians take is reading, hearing, writing and saying countless (useless) words without listening to the Word of God. Without that silence to create the climate in which we can listen to that one necessary word, our words may want to defend God, Jesus, Mary, the Pope, the Church, Catholic doctrine, but they are not Christian words. Without that stillness, those who see evil will find it in the most beautiful things on earth. Despite this, they will find a detail, a small defect, a small dark spot to say that everything is rotten. And they will convince many people that your point of view is true. We spend so much time in the midst of useless conversations, losing the power of the word:

"For the Word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to cleave soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."(Hebrews 4:12).

This raises the question for us: Do we Christians have the courage to put God's Word into practice when it comes to the use of words?

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