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Posts Tagged ‘gossip’


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Munizÿaba Cave, Entrance PitThe Subtle Slide into Darkness

Psalm 1:1-2

Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

Nor sit in the company of scoffers.

Our first steps into darkness are so often imperceptible; the first encounters are brief and even tangential to our lives; later we find ourselves standing around the office water cooler or coffee pot; and finally we become a member of the group who gossip, criticize and deceive.

Rather, the faithful delight is in the law of the Lord, and on that law they meditate day and night. 

When we remain in God and filter all of our actions and words through the Law of Love incarnated in Jesus, we see the subtle slide from its beginning.

God says: I know how much you like to be a part of the crowd; I too, like to be in the company of others. I also know how gentle is the beginning slope of the slide into darkness . . . and how steep is this same slope once the light begins to wane.  Abide with me, re-read the words spoken by Jesus, allow the Spirit to dwell in you . . . and you will see where these secret slides are hidden. 

It is possible to find friends who enact God’s compassion, who critique with kindness and who speak truth gently.  Enter the word friend in the blog search bar and reflect on what our relationships say about our image of God.


Image from: http://thedailychapter.wordpress.com/page/22/

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James 4Puffs of Smoke

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Throughout his letter, James reminds us that we must be doers of the word and not sayers only.  In Chapter 4 he focuses us on the habits we have nurtured that contribute to our divisions, habits of the heart and mind that create division, habits of the soul that separate us from God.

Where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? . . . Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? 

God wishes happiness for all his creatures; God does not wish that some of us do well while others starve.  James points out that it is our own selfishness and greed that cause us to build the barriers that separate us.  Humility, he says, is the only remedy.  We must submit our will to God’s and resist the demon world that whispers in our ear to tell us that we are more special than others.

Do not speak evil of one another.  Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges a brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  If you judge the law you are not a doer of the law but a judge . . . Who are you to judge your neighbor?

When we gossip with one another and slander others we become incapable judges; and the only true and gifted judge is God.  James does not speak here of a judicial system that oversees criminal cases and administers appropriate consequences; rather, James speaks of a world in which humble servants acknowledge God’s power and generosity.  James knows – and once we put away our ego we will also come to know – that God’s plan for justice is far too complicated for humans to fully comprehend.  God’s plan converts sinners, it waits on the last of the sheep, it allows the weeds to grow up with the harvest, it calls the high and powerful to serve the low and powerless, it turns all harm into goodness.  This is a plan that we cannot out-maneuver.  It is a plan that we cannot ignore.  It is a plan that will be in force forever – even until the end of time.

You have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. 

I spoke with a friend this morning who is recovering from brain surgery – he and his family are hopeful.  I spoke to another just before Mass whose husband has lung cancer.  “Three weeks ago our lives were normal,” she said.  “Now we spend every day at the hospital.  They know our first names”.  I met a complete stranger as I came out of the store after Mass.  He noticed I was carrying milk.  I noticed that he was driving an historic car.  When I complemented him on its beautiful restoration he said, “Yeah, I spent three years of my life on this and then my wife got sick.  A few months later she was gone.  Just like that.  I don’t know what I’m gonna do”.  We smiled and spoke kind words to one another before parting ways.

We have no idea what our life will be like tomorrow.  We are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. 

James urges us to cease our bickering; he asks that we put an end to petty divisions.  He recommends that we put aside gossip and false speech; he advises that we go to God in humility.

James reminds us that we are mere wisps of vapor and that without God we are less than nothing.  He tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. 

James tells us that all we need do is live our lives as doers of the word and not sayers only.  James asks us to cease judging and gossiping; he asks that we humble ourselves to take the last seat at the table rather than the first.  James reminds us that as tiny wisps of ash rising on the drifting wind we do not have the capacity to judge as God does.

So rather than throw our lives away on pointless living and selfish habits, let us rise like incense from the altar of our lives to be taken into the arms of a God who loves us relentlessly.  For once we humble ourselves to join others who rise in like unison, we will find that we have been gathered together in God’s loving arms . . . to become far more than mere puffs of smoke.


Images from: http://www.ursulinesjesus.org/prayer.htm 

A re-post from September 18, 2011.

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Ephesians 4:29-32: Harmful Words

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Norman Rockwell: The Gossips

We hear and use so many words. We speak so often and express so much, hoping that our actions match the thoughts we offer in glib language. Paul advises us today to keep watch over what we say and how we say it.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Just last week in my workplace, colleagues and friends decided to make the upcoming year one in which we promote peace. How easy this sounds. How difficult this is. How necessary and important is the work of watching what we say and how we say it. Gossip is an open pit that ensnares many of us; but in this time of harsh words that stir up harsh deeds, we must take this work seriously.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

In the days to come, we will work at saying only what helps, measuring each syllable as a gift. In the months ahead, we will be kind to one another, forgive and heal breaches. In years that yawn before us, we will lapse from time to time but we must return to a place of mutual respect and peace. We must make a clean break with the casual, off-handed words we let slip so quickly from the tongue and lips. We must watch our ways. We must remove harmful words and actions from our lives for in so doing, we live in the hope that we might live more gently. We live in the love of Christ generously showered on us. We live in the Creator’s fidelity, blooming with the promise of our own creation.

When we compare various translations of these words, we open ourselves to the great turning from harm to love.

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Proverbs 4: Admonition

Sunday, July 23, 2017

We can never be too cautious or prudent. Learn the ways of wisdom by heart.

We can never be too vulnerable and open to God. Keep vigilance over our hearts.

We can never forget the practical advice of Lady Wisdom.

Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
    avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
    ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
    and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
    leave evil in the dust.

Wisdom admonishes us to take care, but she also reminds us that small, practical guidelines bring us serenity and joy.

Comparing various translations of these verses, we realize again the importance of small practices.

 

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Deuteronomy 15:12-18: Slavery

Wednesday, February 1, 2017qumran

A Favorite from January 23, 2009.

We experience all sorts of slavery in our lives: slavery to work, slavery to ideas, and slavery to people.  Paul characterizes himself many times as a slave of Christ, obeying to the utmost, owning nothing, being strength itself in his earthly weakness and poverty.

Gossip repeated commits us to a kind of slavery.  The speaker can never move out of an entrenched opinion; the victim remains stuck in an unpleasant characterization.  The irony of slavery is that it reduces the owner more than the slave; and perhaps that is why we see the recommendation in today’s reflection that the slave be set free . . . For remember, you were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God ransomed you.

At the time the book of Deuteronomy was written, and also in Jesus’ day, slavery was an accepted fact of life.  Only the Essenes of Qumran rejected it in principle (Achetemeier 1031) as we can read in the works of Josephus, a Jewish historian.  The famous stoic philosopher Epictetus was a slave, as was the family of St Paul.  Slaves in Old Testament days were mainly for domestic service, and they “played a minor economic role in the ancient Near East” (Achetemeier 1029).  Crown and temple slaves were usually captured during war; private slaves were defaulting debtors and their families, or indigents who resorted to self-sale.  In New Testaments days under Roman rule, slaves comprised as much as thirty five percent of the population.  Poor masters were to be punished; slaves were to participate in the Sabbath rest.  Many of the rules regarding slaves were established in an effort to maintain the dignity and humanity of these human beings; but no matter its form or purpose, slavery is something to be abolished.  It meant “social death” in ancient times (Achetemeier 1030) and remains so today – cutting the slave off from family, friends, homeland and resources.

To what are we slaves today?  Who do we enslave by our words and actions?  How might we free ourselves and others from chains real or unreal?

The only freedom that is eternal and redeeming is that which comes when we give ourselves over to God’s love.  Placing ourselves in the compassionate hands of Christ is the single most effective method of ensuring that we are slaves to no one and to nothing; for when we place God before all else in our lives . . . we put ourselves in a place which no shackle can chain.

God always rescues; he always keeps his promises.  As the prophet Zechariah tells us (8:7-8): Thus says the Lord of hosts; Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun.  I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.  They shall be my people, and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.

No matter where we are or what our condition, we are well-loved by our creator.  When we turn to him and agree to serve him only, we live in a state of freedom which can never be enslaved.  Would it not be wonderful if we might set ourselves and others free from the chains in which we have entrapped them?

From this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

For those who feel hopelessly trapped by the habits of sin: grant them forgiveness and peace.

For those who fear your anger: show them also your love.

For those who delay examining their decisions and habits: let them see how quickly life passes.

God in heaven, deliver us, rescue us, set us free from all that keeps us from you.  Amen.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 1031. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 1.23 (2009). Print.  

For more on the Essenes of Qumran, click on the image above or visit: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html

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Matthew 9:1-8: Gossipy Whispering

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Too often when we come into contact with those among us who suffer physical or mental differences, we turn away in alarm or surprise. Or worse, we give in to the temptation to whisper about someone’s condition without realizing that our behavior is clearly visible. Our gossipy whispering is audible.

Jesus teaches us a difficult lesson today.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’?” 

We know that in ancient times – and still in some cultures today – afflictions are seen as divine punishment for sin. Jesus forgives with the authority given him by the Creator.

Jesus teaches us how to measure our compassion today.

“Get up. Take your bed and go home”.

In our hearts and minds we are grateful when we do not suffer, grateful when we walk in bounty. We also know that God’s grace blesses us with the gifts that make it possible for us to earn a living, to afford a roof, food and clothing. Although in many societies we believe that everyone is entitled to an equal opportunity, we also must know that not everyone is equally endowed.

Jesus teaches us how to heal today.

And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

In a world that is strangely topsy-turvy, we know that we are responsible for our response to God’s call more than we are responsible for our fame, wealth or power. Jesus calls us to put aside our gossipy whispering and invite those among us who are paralyzed in any way to join us. Jesus invites all to come together with whatever gifts we have to build the infinite and boundless kingdom.

Jesus teaches us about goodness today.

When we use the scripture link above and the drop-down menus to explore other translations of this story, we hear God’s call as healing and compassionate kingdom-builders.

To learn more about Jesus’ miracles, click on the image above or visit: http://iconsandimagery.blogspot.com/2012_10_01_archive.html  

Tomorrow, withering the fig tree. 

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James 4:11-5:6: Arrogance

Saturday, November 14, 2015

arrogance“James now turns to three forms of arrogance which exemplify life according to the measure of the world. The first is the practice of slander against a neighbor . . . A second form of arrogance is demonstrated by those who make great business plans without considering the fragile nature of their own existence . . . Finally, with a prophetic rage like that of Amos, James attacks the insolence of the rich who withhold wages from their laborers. The security gained by such fraud is illusory; the rich fatten themselves for the day of judgment”. (RG 552)

God says: Gossip and slander are forms of violence just as deadly as bullets. They murder not only the other’s reputation but your own. With your words you pigeon-hole others and rob them of the hope of change. The creation of business without me is another form of violence. When you create wealth without including me you weave fairy castles of illusion. You pretend that you are responsible for all you have stored up and for all that makes you comfortable. When you rob others of their just wages you do more than demoralize them, you presume to set yourself up as supreme judge and arbiter. All of these – gossip, slander, living without me, taking from others what is rightfully theirs – are acts of violence against your fellows and against me. When you turn away from these subtle separations from The Way, you turn toward me. And I welcome you each day with wide and embracing arms.

Study the words of the prophet Amos. Enter his name into the blog search bar and reflect on how our modern lives might fall into the three kinds of arrogance that James describes for us.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 552. Print.   

Tomorrow, a prayer for arrogance . . . 

 

 

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joySunday, November 9, 2014

1 Samuel 18

Joy and Suspicion

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Samuel.

Too often the high points in our lives are followed by turmoil and darkness brought on by jealousy. My dad always warned us that as we move up the ladder of life to become more proficient in the workplace we may also become targets for office gossip and suspicion. But, he added, we cannot allow this to affect either our work or our relationships. Rather than frighten us, Dad meant to arm us with the knowledge that joy is accompanied by suspicion, and we see truth play out with David today when he returns from slaying the giant Goliath to be greeted with both great joy . . . and deep suspicion. If we spend time with these verses, we see that success may breed its own kind of darkness. It is up to us to decide how we will react. It is in our power to look for joy hidden in the dark recesses of suspicion.

Verses 6-9: It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

Steen: David's Triumphant Return

Steen: David’s Triumphant Return

Suspicion, gossip, jealousy, envy. These are the slippery steps that David navigates with God’s help. Later in his story, David succumbs to temptation that ruins the lives of many, but his actions bring us hope when we understand that even God’s anointed will err.

Fidelity, trust, hope, love. These are the footholds we look for in the face of the mountain we climb. We find joy even in the darkest of places when we rely on God’s providence, God’s wisdom and God’s love.

Visit 1 and 2 Samuel if you have time over the next few hours to put today’s Noontime into context.

Enter the words, Saul, David, envy or jealousy into the blog search bar and explore. Discover ways in which God’s quiet joy is always with us . . . even when we lest expect to feel its presence.  

Click on the Steen image above for more information about this story of triumph, suspicion and ultimately . . . joy. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

 

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Appearances


phariseesHoly Tuesday, April 15, 2014

John 7:14-24

Appearances

We might picture ourselves in this story on the side of Jesus in this debate; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who are narrow-minded.

We might picture ourselves in this story as a member of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who are short-sighted.

We might picture ourselves in this story among Jesus’ disciples who follow him up to Jerusalem; and yet each time we judge by appearances we chose the side of those who focused on themselves.

You circumcise a man on the Sabbath . . . are you angry with me because I made a whole person well on the Sabbath?

We seek the “in crowd” while we forget to look for the principles of those who company we keep.

We long for comfort while we neglect the simple basics of life for the refugee, the homeless, the wisdom and the orphan.

We take pride in our country, our parish, our family, and ourselves while we feel no shame that our neighbors go without medical care, a diet that sustains or access to clean water.

Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.

We listen to and even pass on gossip. We remain silent when our co-workers ostracize a colleague. We believe that our pettiness can be hidden and that our transformation can wait for a more convenient day.

Stop judging by appearances, but judge justly.

We gently yet firmly put an end to gossip in our lives. We speak carefully yet firmly about local and global injustice. We engage in acts of kindness that rescue and transform others and ourselves.

In this Holy Week that announces the Easter miracle, and in each day of our lives . . . our actions speak loudly about our relationships. Our actions say volumes about our image of self and God. Our actions declare how much we heed Christ’s words when he calls us to judge as we ought . . . with justice . . . rather than by appearances.

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