Many years ago, my father gave me a little example of how gossip can travel to distances and be destructive. He started by warning me that what we gossip and talk badly about other people can sometimes never be retrieved or corrected again. He said that gossip is like removing the feathers of a chicken and leaving them in an open air. When the wind blows harder, the feathers will be blown away to distances that it will be difficult if not impossible to gather them again. And by the time the feathers are being gathered again, they will look dirty and messy. This is what happens whenever we talk badly about others. By the time the gossip gets to the person be spoken about, most people will add their own version to make the story look more interesting.
Yet, within each one of us is an image of God. Jesus had to suffer the same as we see in today’s Gospel how the scribes and the people he has worked for talked badly of him. They wanted his persecution (Mark (14:1-15). We can also crucify when we gossip and talk badly of others! The elder brother to gossip is slander. The truth is that these vices are not uncommon within every Christian community.
The prophet Isaiah said in the first reading of this Palm Sunday that “the Lord has given him a well-trained tongue, that he might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them (Isaiah 50:4-7).” Like prophet Isaiah, each and every one of us is gifted with a tongue to bless and build up others in our community.
One of the most powerful ‘sense-organs’ in our body is the tongue. It can do good and bad at the same time depending on how we use it. It can be used to build up a community. As well, it can be used to pull down a community and rip it apart. It can condemn, judge wrongfully and also positively. The tongue helps to know the taste of food and everything that goes into the mouth. At the same time, it helps us to talk fluently about things and also about others. It has the tendency to gossip very well because it wants to talk all the time. Many vices can cause us to gossip even without knowing that we are doing so. How do you talk about others especially in the Lenten season? Are you always the one to throw the first stone? Think about a time when you have been presented wrongfully. How did you feel about it? Do you encourage others by with what you say or cause division? Are you always with friends who lead you into such habit? As we go into the Holy week, let us ask God to guide our words about others. Let us keep a good distance from gossip and the things that lead to it.