You shall love your neighbor as yourself. // Galatians 5:13
We’d just had the extraordinary privilege to attend a three-day congress at the Vatican in honor of the twentieth anniversary of Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). Scholars from around the world delivered papers on Pope Saint John Paul’s apostolic letter and its implications and import. It was a remarkable event filled with insights and encouragement from around the globe.
A group of us who attended gathered after the closing lecture to share a glass of vino and revel in the success of the conclave.
One woman—I didn’t know her—made a slight criticism of another who’d attended—that woman was not present. Then another woman in our group picked up this line of criticism and added to it. Before long, much of the room was sharing a snicker at this woman’s expense. How we went from celebrating the “feminine genius” on an international level to a brood of clucking, petty hens seemed to take almost no effort at all. We were all attending that congress—everyone of us—to say, just as the would-be follower of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, “I will follow you Lord, wherever you go” (Luke 9:57). And it took just the slightest nudge to throw us far off the path that leads to Jesus.
Saint Paul’s warning to watch out for “biting and devouring one another” (Galatians 5:15) is a very real one and a corrosive sin far too common among the faithful. We tend to overlook or downplay the sins of the mouth as less damaging than say, murder, and yet to badmouth another is a kind of killing all the same.
A few years later, I had the chance to work with the woman who was the butt of that conversation. She was extraordinary in every way: educated, accomplished, a true lady, warm, and wise. Working with her only drove home the shamefulness of that earlier diatribe. I was grateful to be chastened.
Sister, check your mouth: are there any sins old or new that need to be confessed? Let’s exorcize all biting and devouring from our speech.Check your mouth. // Liz Kelly Click To Tweet