Pope Francis says sowing divisions and discord is a sickness within the Church and described a person who indulges in gossip as like a terrorist who throws bombs. His comments came during his homily at his Friday (4th September) Mass in the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his inspiration from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians where the Apostle spoke of how Christ was sent by God to sow reconciliation and peace among humanity, Pope Francis’s homily was a reflection on the need to sow peace rather than discord in our daily lives.
Do I sow peace or do I sow discord?
He said without Jesus no peace or reconciliation is possible and our task is to be men and women of peace and reconciliation in the midst of news about war and hatred, even within families.
“We’d do well to ask ourselves: Do I sow peace? For example, when I speak, do I sow peace or do I sow discord? How many times have we heard this said about a person: He or she has a serpent’s tongue! This is because that person is always doing what the serpent did with Adam and Eve, namely destroying peace. And this is an evil, this is a sickness within our Church: sowing divisions, sowing hatred, not sowing peace. So this is a question that we should ask ourselves every day: ‘Did I sow peace or did I sow discord today?" ‘But sometimes, we have to say things because he or she….’: But with an attitude like this, what are you sowing?"
Who brings peace is a saint, who gossips is like a terrorist
Christians, the Pope continued, are called therefore to be like Jesus who came among us to bring peace and reconciliation.
“If a person during his or her life does nothing else but reconcile and bring peace that person can be canonized: that person is a saint. But we need to grow that way, we need to have a conversion: never a word that divides, never, never a word that brings war, small wars, never gossip. I’m thinking: what is gossip? Oh it’s nothing- just saying words against another person or telling tales: ‘This person did…’ No! Gossiping is like terrorism because the person who gossips is like a terrorist who throws a bomb and runs away, destroying: with their tongue they are destroying and not making peace. But this person is cunning, right? He is not a suicide bomber, no, no, he takes good care of himself."
Biting our tongue
Pope Francis concluded his homily by repeating a suggestion for Christians to bite their tongues rather than indulge in malicious gossip.
“Every day that I get the urge to say something that sows discord and division, to say bad things about another person… Bite your tongue! I can assure you. If you do this and bite your tongue instead of sowing discord, the first few times the wound will cause your tongue to swell because the devil helps us do this because that’s his work, his job: to divide."
Therefore, my final prayer: “Lord, you gave your life, give me the grace to bring peace and reconciliation. You shed your blood, but what does it matter to me if my tongue gets swollen if I bite it before speaking badly about other people."