Caught with Our Foot in Our Mouth

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:4-7

When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear; so do one's faults when one speaks. As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just. The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does one's speech disclose the bent of one's mind. Praise no one before he speaks, for it is then that people are tested.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Brothers and sisters: When this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Luke 6:39-45

Jesus told his disciples a parable, "Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,' when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye. "A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks."

Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most iconic figures during the Civil Rights Movement in North America, spoke passionately and with authority about human dignity and against the ideologies that allowed certain groups to subjugate others based on race. His words are so powerful that even over half a century later, his “I have a Dream” speech still resonates in the here and now where injustice and inequity are rampant, and many continue to live in fear and isolation, particularly under the oppression of systemic discrimination. Indeed, words are a powerful tool. Dr. King’s words have penetrated the hearts of many, and throughout generations, continue to challenge “anyone with ears” to exchange fear and hatred for trust and love; subjugation and segregation for freedom; and division for communion (Mt 13:9). Contrary, Hitler’s words which are equally powerful, albeit in a destructive way, have literally obliterated millions during the Second World War. Our words, depending on how we use them, can either build up or tear down.

This Sunday’s readings remind us that the power of words can restore or destroy, save or kill. Sirach cautions readers to be mindful of their words before speaking. We definitely would not want to be caught with our foot in our mouth! Saying inappropriate things is indeed embarrassing, however, these words may also hurt in ways beyond our intentions. Further, Sirach explains that when we speak, our “faults” will also appear like “refuse” shaken from a sieve (ref. Sirach 27:4). Our “speech”, like fruits from a tree, “discloses the cultivation of the mind” (Sirach 27:6). If we feed our heart and mind with treachery and lies, the fruits produced will be bitter and poisonous. For instance, when we mistaken being critical for critical thinking, we tend to “see the speck in [our] neighbour’s eye” rather than noticing the “log” in our own eye (Lk 6:41). Jesus warns us of our hypocrisy when we can only see others’ fault but are blind to our own.

Further, in this week’s second reading, Paul juxtaposes the written law that is the “power of sin” bringing only death, with Jesus’ victory over death that brings “imperishability” and “immortality” (1Cor 15:56,54). Paul encourages us to be “steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord”, not because of the letter of the law but in good faith and out of a genuine love for God (1Cor 15:58).

Inevitably, good words come from a good heart “for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45). When we allow God to nurture our heart with the One true Word – the Word made flesh, Christ our Lord – we will be able to produce an abun-dance of good fruits that reflect God’s glory. Indeed, words sprung from such loving soil give life and build up. “Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush” (Lk 6:44).

Posted: March 3, 2019

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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