A perverse person spreads strife, And a slanderer separates close friends. – Proverbs 16:28
All of us at one time or another have become involved in a complex and intricate web of gossip, or found ourselves as its victims. Gossip leaves behind a trail of hurt and scars, its effects lingering indefinitely, causing damage to our reputation, livelihood, and personal lives. As Christians, we are called to be the adopted children of God through our Baptismal consecration, where we have “put on Christ” (CCC, no. 1227) and share in His priesthood, and prophetic and royal mission (CCC, no. 1268).
When we engage in spreading false information or sharing intimate details about others that we have no business to share, are we truly being “sons of light,” shining Christ’s light into the world? Are we bearing witness to Christ to those who have yet to know Him? Does the unwholesome talk that escapes our lips contribute to the building of the Mystical Body of Christ and offer a glimpse of the Heavenly Kingdom?
When we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation we are called to “ever greater witnesses to the Gospel in the world” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 17), obligating us to carry out the Church’s mission with love and charity. This wondrous Sacrament empowers us with the strength of the Holy Spirit to better proclaim Christ in both word and deed (CCC, no. 1285). As His anointed sons and daughters, we are meant to be a reflection of God’s love in the world, and that necessitates that our words align with the heart of Christ.
During moments spent alone with Jesus in the Eucharist before His golden dwelling place, I have often deeply reflected upon what the conversation between the Blessed Trinity in Heaven might sound like during their intimate conversation about me. When the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit converse, they do so with boundless and endless love for us because God loves us so much more then we could ever possibly imagine with our finite minds. The Father shares His plans and hopes for us, His spiritual children. The Son, even when discussing our shortcomings and sufferings, speaks only of mercy and the precious gift of His Cross because He calls us by our name, not by our sins. The Holy Spirit’s words radiate truth and light.
When we speak evil by spreading deceit, lies, or divulging others’ secrets, we fail in our duty as witnesses of the Gospel. Such actions are contrary to the teachings of the Church (CCC, no. 2472). These actions do not come from God but rather from the evil one. Bearing false witness against our neighbor not only harms them but also disrupts our communion with God. Our sins wound not only ourselves but the entire Mystical Body of Christ, causing offense against God, who is the Truth (CCC, no. 1850).
When we set out to purposely slander another person by harming them we are committing a mortal sin, and are destroying our friendship with God and with the one another as members of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We are no longer in a ‘state of grace’ and cannot come to the Table of the Lord to receive Him in the Eucharist. We must seek reconciliation with God and the Church through the Sacrament of Confession because we have lost the Sanctifying Grace, that which is infused into us at our Baptism. How can we deepen our relationship with God by increasing our union with Him, and move towards holiness if we have severed the communion we once had with God and His Church? (See CCC, no. 1416) How can we receive Jesus in the Flesh if we are not prepared to become a living tabernacle, if our soul is tarnished from a most grave sin? (See 1 Cor 11:27-28)
Our love for God should inspire us to follow His commandments, seeking pardon and absolution for our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever we falter. The ultimate truth is that God loves us and calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, for we are all made in the image and likeness of the Triune God. We are called to love our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and imitate Jesus in our daily lives.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29
Before words escape our lips, we should ask ourselves: “Are they necessary? Are they kind? Do they build up or tear down?” Despite our ongoing struggle with concupiscence, God’s grace empowers us to consciously choose good over evil. As Catholics, we are blessed with the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, and the Sacrament of Confession, both of which bring us closer to our Lord and lead our hearts to beat in unison with the Sacred Heart of Christ.
As we journey on the path to holiness, let us commit today to resist gossip, and radiate Christ.