“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?”
The question posed by Jesus shakes the conscience of every person, and every time. After speaking of humility, Jesus speaks to us of its opposite, “of that hateful attitude toward our neighbour, of becoming our brother’s judge.” And here Jesus uses a strong word: ‘hypocrite.’
“Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings. The Lord does not waste many words on this concept. Further on he says that he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer. In his first letter, John the Apostle also says it clearly: anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness”.
Every time we “judge our brothers in our hearts and, worse, when we talk about this with others, we are murderous Christians.
“A murderous Christian…I’m not the one saying it, the Lord says it. And on this point, there is no place for subtleties. If you speak evil of your brother, you are killing your brother. And every time we do this, we imitate the action of Cain, the first murderer of history.”
At this time when there is talk about wars and there are so many appeals for peace, “there is a need for an act of conversion on our part. Gossip always feeds into this dimension of criminality. There is not innocent gossip.” The tongue is for praising God, “but when we use our tongue to speak evil of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill God, the image of God in our brother.” Some may say that certain persons deserve the gossip that they get. But this cannot be.
“Well, go pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to the person who is able to remedy the problem. But don’t talk about it to everyone! Paul was a serious sinner, and he says this about himself: ‘Before, I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and violent. But I was treated with mercy.’ Perhaps none of us blasphemes — perhaps. But if any of us gossips, he is certainly a persecutor and violent. Let’s ask for ourselves, for the whole Church, the grace of conversion from the criminality of gossip to the love, to the humility, to the meekness, to the gentleness, to the magnanimity of love for our neighbour.”
Extracted from a homily given at Saint Martha’s House (September 13, 2013), by The Holy Father, Pope Francis. Titled: “Gossip kills God and neighbor.”