Browsing Homilies

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sir 27:4-7 | Ps 92 | 1 Cor 15:54-58 | Lk 6:39-45

We are surrounded by devices that we use to communicate. Our cellphones not only make phone calls, but they can record video and take pictures. The computers we use at home and at work monitor what websites we visit and store every e-mail we send. Just about every screen we look at also has microphones and cameras that, in turn, could be looking at us. Every street corner, stop light, and store have security cameras that store footage of us every time we step in front of them. Even some private homes have cameras recording not only what is happening on their property, but in the street and in their neighbors’ yards as well.

What if it turned out that all these devices were recording everything we say? What if, somewhere out there, there is a huge database with your and my names on it keeping track of everything we’ve said, every e-mail and text message we’ve ever sent, and every image we’ve looked at over the past decade?

Worse still, what if, for some reason, all that information was broadcast to the world? What if our neighbors could hear everything we’ve ever said about them?  What if our parents could discover everything we’ve said and done behind their backs? Chances are we have said many things in private that we would never have said if we knew they were being recorded. What we’ve said would probably reveal that we are not the kind and sympathetic people we want others to believe we are. It might likely be that our words would better reveal our prejudices, ignorance, and pettiness.

In today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach, we hear that our faults appear when we open our mouths. What we say reveals the kind of person we are. We’ve all had the experience of “putting our foot in our mouths,” saying something thoughtless or offensive. We might apologize right away and say we didn’t mean it. But, in fact, we blurted out the mean thoughts we’d been carrying around with us. It isn’t that we didn’t mean to say it, but that we didn’t want others to hear it.

Thankfully, we can choose which thoughts we want to allow into our hearts and what words we speak with our lips. Though thoughts often pop up spontaneously in our minds, we can choose either to dwell on them, or to dismiss them. If we dwell on pure and loving thoughts, we will become pure and loving people and that will be reflected in our speech.

It is clear that we can do a lot of harm through what we say. But it is also true that our speech has the power to do a lot of good. What are some ways that we can begin today to use our tongues in positive and uplifting ways?

We can encourage others. A sincere compliment can do wonders for a person. Teens and young adults who can struggle to fit in and are uncomfortable with all that is going on inside of them could often use someone to pat them on the back and tell them that everything will turn out fine.

Speaking out for those who cannot defend themselves is also an important way that we can use our power of speech. When we are with friends who are criticizing or making fun of another person, we can stand up for that person by pointing out something good about the person they are ridiculing or by changing the subject.

As citizens, we have a duty to speak out for the rights of those who have no power in our society: the unborn, immigrants, and minorities. They need our voice to point out the injustices that are committed against them on a daily basis. There is probably no better use of our power of speech than to decry the wrongs done to others and to challenge our world to do better.

Finally, one great way that we can use our power of speech is by deciding to remain silent. Choosing not to speak is often the wisest thing we can do. Sometimes, we should be doing more listening than speaking. Letting others be heard is a great way of encouraging and supporting them. Or, if we do not have anything charitable or uplifting to say, it is usually better that we say nothing at all.

What we choose to say reveals the type of person we are. Spend some time in the week ahead, thinking about what you have said, e-mailed, and texted lately.

What does it reveal about you?


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