Thursday, December 21, 2017

Taming the Tongue

"Wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish can all be tamed by man and often are; but nobody can tame the tongue-it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison" (James 3:7). A columnist in the Catholic Times reminds us of the problems we have with the tongue.

Many times we use the tongue to utter empty words: "Let's eat together one of these days." This is one of the frequent empty phrases used in Korea. The columnist recalls the many times she has used these words with others. She resolved to use the words with those with whom she truly would like to eat with in the future.

When we borrow money from the bank we incur a debt and we have to repay, the same is true of the words we utter they are a debt we make to others. Sometimes we speak out without much thought and   when we do so we often hurt the other. 

We need to be careful in what we say but equally in what we hear. At times what we say frivolously is not taken frivolously. And when we agree to something and no response is evident it's like a messenger you send out who never returns. When this happens trust is lost. Words are often  the measure of trust between persons.

When people meet together there is always going to be gossip. Pope Francis said that if one doesn't participate in gossip they are saints. When we are present in such circumstances we are giving support and often feel uncomfortable. Especially when there has been little contact with the person talked about; gossip leaves an aftertaste which is not good since we are told to love the other.

She mentions the words of a Saint who recommended few words for those who love Jesus and patience in all things. And no need to give your opinion until asked.

Often we speak about a person's faults without reason, we bicker, nag, show off, break confidences, dominate the conversation and participate in  salacious talk and jokes. If we were to go deep into our conversations we find bad examples, excusing ourselves and fail to be transparent when we should be, idle talk and meddling in the affairs of others, and many other ways that we abuse the use of the tongue. 

"So is the tongue only a tiny part of the body, but it can set fire to a huge forest; the tongue is a flame like that. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a whole wicked world in itself; it infects the whole body; catching fire itself from hell, it sets fire to the whole wheel of creation"(James 3: 5).