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  • Sarah Raad

Gossip

How terrible would it feel to be called a killer, by the Perfect Judge and the ALMIGHTY CREATOR at the end of time?

Saint John Chrysostom

Over the years, during the priest’s Homily in the Liturgy of the Word of the Mass, I heard very often words of caution to refrain from the sin of gossip.


Though historically, I have not thought about these words very much before, in recent days I have reflected on these warnings very much.


The other day, I had a funny conversation with my beautiful husband. In it he was explaining to me – in his usual light-hearted way – that he has probably committed sins against all of the Ten Commandments at one time or another, except for the commandment not to kill.


Though my husband’s joking admission did not shock me, my serious response most definitely shocked him!


My response was simply… “Well, you may think that you haven’t committed sins against all Commandments, but I can assure you that I have!”


He laughed, “Surely, not the killing sin. After all, you never killed anyone did you?”


“No?” I questioned calmly, while the television flickered forgotten in front of us…


But of course, the answer to my monosyllabic question is not NO, but, sadly, “YES.”

Yes I have killed – many many many times.

When I was taught the Ten Commandments as a school girl, I was taught the basics. I remember being a little school girl and being asked to memorise the Commandments in order and recite them to my religion teacher in primary school as a test.


My youngest child has just recently completed her preparation to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As part of this preparation, 5 to 10 minutes of one lesson were spent running through a list of the Ten Commandments, which were phrased in modern English. The children were not given the original text. They were not asked to memorise anything at all...


Times have changed. I am old – old-school at least – and though I long for the days when we pushed ourselves to learn more and remember important things, I am in the minority! In these days of Google and the Internet, there is little we need to retain in the recesses of our mind, because we can locate most data with the click of a button, or a question to Sirri…


Whether children are asked to memorise the Commandments or whiz over them in a class, the full intention of the message may be lost anyway.


It was lost for me despite my teachers asking me to memorise them some 30 years ago. Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit who truly inspires such understanding – not our own human ability to rationalise.


And so, in light of this journey to understanding, I decided to revisit the Commandments, for myself and my husband…


When we are told to worship ONE God we are asked to put God first, prioritising God above sport, entertainment, pleasure and sin.


To keep God’s name holy, it is not only His name, but His entire Being that requires our respect, by avoiding blasphemy and disrespect in thoughts, words or deeds.


In keeping the Sabbath holy, we are supposed to give God His due through prayer and rest.


In honouring our parents, we are also to honour authority and respect it, effectively giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.


Adultery refers to respect for the dignity of the human person, because when we respect others we would not even think of dishonouring them to appease our own appetites.


We are called to honesty by not stealing or bearing false witness, which also facilitates generosity and eliminates greed.


In not coveting our neighbours’s wife or goods, we are told to control our envy and be thankful for our own blessings, in total surrender to the Will of God.


And, now, after considering these nine, I come to my husband’s questioning joke about killing.


What does that one mean?

Do not kill means… do not cause harm. No harm through our deeds – through physical assault. No harm through our thoughts – through bad wishes. No harm through our words – through nasty words and GOSSIP.

Saint Padre Pio summarised it simply when he said… “When you gossip about a person you remove that person from your heart. But be aware that when you remove a man from your heart, Jesus also goes away from your heart with that man.”


And it is for this reason that Saint Jacinta of Fatima warned… “Speak ill of no one and avoid the company of those who talk (ill) about their neighbours”.


Because, as Saint John Chrysostom explained… “Human nature is full of weaknesses. And the strongest people may have gaps in their life. And he may fall, if the war intensifies against him,

And if preserving grace abandons him ... That is why he looks at people with affection, in their rise .. and in their downfall as well!”


After all, how terrible would it feel to be called a killer, by the Perfect Judge and ALMIGHTY CREATOR at the end of time?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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