The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you Peace. (Numbers 6: 24-26)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bite Thy Tongue

And the tongue is a fire.  The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no human being can tame the tongue - a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brethren, this ought not to be so.  James 3: 6-10
Dear Reader, I think this passage struck me this morning because I, just like many others, need to be constantly reminded just how powerful and how hurtful our tongues can be.  I have just enough Irish in me that, on occasion, my temper will be loosed and such things can fly forth from my mouth that might make a sailor blush.  By the Grace of God, this does not happen often anymore, but whenever it does, it reinforces to me just how important the words of St. James really are.

The words we say (and write) have meaning and carry the force of that meaning as they impact and those who hear (and / or read) them.  Our words can be supportive and constructive; yet, they can also be harmful and damaging to those to whom they are directed as well as to ourselves.  We give vent to what we believe and have inside of us when we open our mouths and loose our tongues, and what we say can be a blessing or a curse.

Like me, many of us loose our tempers on occasion and say something in the heat of the emotion that we later wish we could take back.  In such instances, we should always acknowledge that while we can't take it back, we can express our regret and make amends to the person or persons against whom we sinned.  We are all sinners, and we all make mistakes; but as Christians, we should be ready to apologize, and to forgive, for those times when we fail to control our lashing tongues.

What is more dangerous, however, are those who use their tongues to teach and preach a message that is contrary to that which we have received from Christ through His Church.  These do not lose control of their tongues in anger or in spite, rather they open their mouths to cast doubt and question upon some of the most fundamental doctrines of our faith.  In the last few decades, it has become the norm to debate and discount the miracles, nature, bodily resurrection and even the historicity of Jesus Christ.  There are leaders in the Church today who are more interested in focusing on making the Church a reflection of the culture rather than making the culture a reflection of the Kingdom of God.

James' warning about the power of the human tongue speaks to power of the gift that God has given to His people.  He has given us the freewill to choose to follow Him or not.  We can choose to abide by His Word or we may walk apart and fend for ourselves in this darkened world.  We can choose to speak the Truth as He has revealed it to us through the prophets, apostles and martyrs, or we can speak half-truths and lies that weaken our faith and cause people to lose their way. 
And he said to his disciples, "Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!  It would be better for him is a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin."  Luke 17: 1-2
Enough said.

Fr. Michael+

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