Pope: Gossip Kills

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Gossip “can kill because it can kill someone’s reputation. Gossiping is such a bad thing. In the beginning, it might seem enjoyable and fun, but it eventually fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us. Here is the truth: I am convinced that if each one of us avoided gossip, we would eventually become saints,” said the pope before today’s Angelus, as he commented this Sunday’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, “Jesus’ first major act of preaching.”

Before the Marian prayer, Francis said, “Today’s theme is Jesus’ attitude towards Jewish Law. He said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill’ (Mt, 5:17). Hence, Jesus does not want to cancel the Commandments the Lord gave through Moses; he wants to take them to their fullest. Fulfilling the Law requires a higher justice, a truer observance, he said right after [the above]. To his disciples, he said, ‘I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt, 5:20).”

Yet, what does fully fulfilling the Law means? What is higher justice? “Jesus gives us the answer through a few examples. Jesus was a practical man. He always spoke through examples to make himself understood. He starts with the fifth commandment from the Decalogue: ‘You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill . . . . But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment (Ibid, 5:21-22). With this, Jesus is reminding us that words too can kill.”

Speaking off the cuff, the pope clarified the concept. “When saying that someone has a serpent’s tongue, what do we mean? That his words can kill. Accordingly, not only we cannot attack someone else’s life but we cannot pour the poison of anger over him and strike him with slander. Nor can we speak ill of him. Now let us talk about gossip. Gossip can kill because it can kill someone’s reputation. Gossiping is such a bad thing. In the beginning, it might seem enjoyable and fun, but it eventually fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us….”