Pope Francis, in his Thursday homily, used today’s Gospel to inspire his message for the day.
Speaking in his native Spanish tongue the Pope referred to Christ’s words to his disciples: “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The Pope suggested this flowed nicely from the Gospel of the Beatitudes and Jesus’ promise that he had not come to dissolve the law but to fulfil it. He said Christ wants “reform in continuity: from the seed up to the fruit” and warned that anyone who “enters Christian life will have greater demands made of them than others” and not “greater advantages.”
In a direct reference to the Gospel Pope Francis said, “If our heart harbours bad feelings towards our brothers, something is not working and we must convert, we must change.”
He continued, “anger towards our brother is an insult, it’s something almost deathly, it kills him. Jesus, with all the simplicity says: “Do not speak ill of one another. Do not denigrate one another. Do not belittle one another.”” The Pope then said that “in the end we are all travelling on the same road. We are all travelling on that road that will take us to the very end. [Therefore], if we do not choose a fraternal path, it will end badly, for the person who insults and the insulted.”
The Pope hit home the point saying: “If we are not able to keep our tongues in check, we lose.”
He then sought to give a reason for such behaviour, putting it down to the fact that we are weak and are sinners rather than being bad.
He then said: “I would ask the Lord to give us all the grace to watch what we say about others. It is a small penance but it bears a lot of fruit. Sometimes we go hungry and think, ‘What a pity I didn’t taste the fruit of a tasty comment against another person’.”
In conclusion, the Pope said: “We ask the Lord for this grace: to adapt our lives to this new law, which is the law of meekness, the law of love, the law of peace, and at least prune our tongues a little, prune the comments that we make of others and outbursts that lead us to an easy anger or insult. May the Lord grant us all this grace.”
This type of striking at the very basics of everyday living has been a constant theme through the pontificate of Francis and, thankfully, it looks set to continue. Already we have been encouraged to avoid complaining and avoid gossip; now, we are being encouraged to bite our tongues in order to prevent ourselves from speaking ill of or belittling our brothers and sisters. It’s all part of doing the right thing. Doing as Jesus would do.