Sins of Innuendo

(September 9, 2018)

Bottom line: May Christ open our ears and cleanse our lips that we might hear his word and gently speak it to others.

This month we read from the letter of St. James. In one part he describes the sins of the tongue. It's a small member, he says, but like the rudder of ship it can determine the direction of one's life. The same tongue can both curse and bless. In today's Gospel Jesus heals a deaf mute by touching his tongue. This a good moment to address the sins involving a misuse of the gift of speech.

Coincidentally this week I am at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival which features a production of Othello. As you might know, the play tells how a villain named Iago brings down Othello. He uses gossip and innuendo to turn Othello against his blameless wife, Desdemona.

Let's go back then to the Gospel: Jesus touches the ears of a deaf man and says, Ephphatha, that is “be opened.” It must have been wonderful to hear sounds – children, birds, above all the voice of Jesus himself. But it also must have been a lot of work to begin learning the meaning of so many words – and to distinguish that which requires attention from that which one can ignore.

Only after we have listened to Jesus, should we speak. And we need to ask him to touch our lips before we do. Prior to proclaiming the Gospel, the priest prays quietly: “Almighty God, cleanse my heart and my lips that I may worthily proclaim your Gospel.” That’s a prayer we could all say before attempting to speak on behalf of the Lord.

At the conclusion of the Gospel, before giving the homily, he says (inaudibly) “May the words of the Gospel wipe away our sin.” Always essential to recognize ones own sin – and that our goal is not to condemn, but to offer liberation from sin.

Like you, I would be a fool if I did not recognize I need correction. But how and when is it helpful? Once I was doing something in the parish which I thought was OK. A man approached me at a moment when I did not have a hundred distractions, expressed his concern in a kindly manner and showed me an appropriate document. While I was not happy to be corrected (who is?) I appreciated his thoroughness, thought about what he said and made an appropriate change. It also helped that I knew him as a prayerful man who cares about me and loves the parish.

Isaiah prophesied,

The ears of the deaf (will) be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing. (35:5f.)

May Christ open our ears and cleanse our lips that we might hear his word and gently speak it to others.


Spanish Version

From Archives (22nd Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2015: Discernment of Spirits Week 2
2012: A Work of Liberation
2009: Hearing his Voice
2006: The March of Folly
2003: Lord, Cleanse My Lips
2000: What is Friendship with Jesus?
1997: Real vs. Imaginary Jesus

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Summer - Kings and Prophets*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru