8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What’s in a word?
“A good man/woman draws what is good from the store of goodness in his/her heart; a bad man/woman draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a person’s words flow out of what fills their heart.” Luke 6:45
We stand on the very edge of the Holy Season of Lent.
The Gospel reading this coming weekend, reminds us that speech is a special gift from God and as such we should respect and honour it by what we say and how we speak. Throughout the whole of scripture from the very beginning, there are many times in God’s Word when we are encouraged to use good and wholesome speech and words. There is also guidance as to what to do when we have sinned and have used unkind and hurtful words as we seek God’s merciful forgiveness.
The old adage goes; ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me.’ Thing is, in truth that is not correct, for what a person may say to us can remain buried deep inside for many years and resurface often, either causing joy if the words received were good, helpful and kind or pain and sorrow if the words were cruel and harsh.
Jesus, in Luke’s Gospel, reminds us that a person’s words flow out of what fills their heart. His lips always spoke kind, gracious words, and He always spoke the truth of the Father’s Heart in the power of the Holy Spirit with much love and compassion. Even when we sometimes read Jesus’ words and may consider them in our 21st Century mind to be a little harsh, Cf. the conversation with the Syro-Phoenician woman and the exorcism of her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28) or the way Jesus refers to Mary, His Mother as ‘woman’ at the Wedding feast at Cana and at the Cross (Cf. John 2:4, John 19:26,27) these are nevertheless words of deep love and grace and we need to see them in the context of that time in history too.
As the Incarnate Word, the Son of God chooses to speak His words of forgiveness and mercy (Cf. the woman caught in adultery – John 8:1-11) and the response of Jesus to those who sought His execution and crucifixion. As He was being lifted up on the cross to die, Jesus spoke only words of loving forgiveness, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Cf. Luke 23:34)
Jesus’ command of love is to tell us to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ (Cf. John 13:34,35) One of the best ways we can do this is by the way we speak to others and the words we use.
As we approach the Holy Season of Lent, let us pause and consider how we speak.
In preparation for this Holy Season upon us, let us pray through and reflect upon the following words: May we make this our prayer often during this time of prayer, penance, fasting and giving to others.
A special Lenten Fast: With God’s help, let us:
Give up harsh words, use generous ones.
Give up unhappiness, take up gratitude.
Give up pessimism, take up hope and optimism.
Give up worrying, take up trust in God.
Give up complaining, value what you have.
Give up stress, take up prayer.
Give up judging others, discover Jesus within them.
Give up sorrow and bitterness, fill your heart with joy.
Give up selfishness, take up compassion for others.
Give up being unforgiving, learn reconciliation.
Give up words, fill yourself with silence.
Latin American Reflection – Anonymous.