Dear Beloved of St. Joseph’s,
One day, a blind man was sitting on a sidewalk of a busy street and many people walked past him. There was a sign next to him that said: “I am blind. Please help!” And some stopped to throw a coin into a metal cup, but most did not. Most people, absorbed in their own problems and in their own lives, simply walked by. But there was a young woman who saw the sign and decided to change it. She knelt next to the blind man, turned the large cardboard to the flip side and wrote: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” It was the same message and yet worded differently and, all of a sudden, people stopped and noticed and generously gave. There was something in this choice of words that made people react differently and this is something that happens in our lives all the time. Most of the time we use words automatically, without thinking, and we treat words lightly. If we were to realize how important words are in our lives, we would be far more careful in how we use them.
It is now Great Lent and I see that many of you are approaching Lent seriously, each preparing for it according to his or her own conscience. And I think that this is a good time to share with you a brief lesson that someone recently reminded me of. It is just a few mere words and yet they say so very much.
“It’s not what you put into your mouth that is most important, but what comes out of your mouth that matters!” Think about it! Yes, we should fast from various foods, but we could fast to the point of starving and yet if we allow our words to be hurtful and unkind, no amount of fasting will make us good Christians. Words have remarkable strength and can have a profound effect on the people that they touch. Words can bring laughter and joy and they can bring comfort and solace; but they can also bring pain and grief and sorrow. Ask yourself – do you encourage or do you discourage? Are you building up your spouse, child, friend with words of understanding, praise and encouragement? Do you use words to motivate and defend? Or are you tearing everyone down by being critical, judgmental and bitter and are you perhaps destroying people through gossip? And ask yourself how much time do you waste on complaining. STOP and THINK! How are you using your words and why? Don’t allow yourself to use words simply out of habit. STOP and THINK! And change your words or your words will change you… and they will change the world around you!
In Ephesians 4:29 we read: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” And the Proverbs also teach us moderation of the tongue: “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue, keeps himself out of trouble.” (21:23) “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it, breaks the spirit.” (15:4) May God enable us to use our words as an instrument of His love.
Let us always choose our words with love…