Eighth Sunday of the Year C; Reflections by Fr. Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Sir 27:4-7; Ps 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 1 Cor 15:54-58 and Luke 6:39-45
Speech Reveals Character
Speech is one of the gifts from God. Like any other gifts it could be used wisely or abusively. It can be use to build the community. It can also be an instrument of destruction and negative criticism. Ben Sira and Jesus today recommend prudence in the use language in everyday life and how we judge our neighbors openly or secretly. I want to add to inordinate use of speech, our other actions and negative silence. These exercises reveal our true character.
By their fruits we shall know them. Ben Sira from his wisdom writings addressed to daily and practical human problems of his time first of all reveals his character. Definitely, he was a wise man. He was a man and teacher of faith. He loved God, the Scriptures and his faith tradition. For challenging imprudent speeches he must have been very charitable in his use of speeches and someone who would think and reflect before he speaks. Even when he was not using language, his life style and silence merits him the honor of a man of integrity, honesty and diligence.
With challenges of Hellenism he was aware of human suffering even in the course of doing Good or living the faith.. He taught perseverance and trust in divine justice.
And believes that, “the text of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just. The fruit of the tree shows the care it has had, so also does ones speech discloses the bent of one’s mind,” (Sir 27:4-7).
Or put differently by Lukan Jesus (Lk 6:39-45),
“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 thorn bushes, 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 the store of evil produces evil, for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
This calls for a Christian’s reevaluation of who we are truly called by Jesus to be. We want to be good trees. We want to bear good fruits. There is always a clear mark of differences between religious zeal, counseling, corporal / spiritual works of mercy and harsh judgment of our neighbors.
No one wants to spend his or her whole time on gossips, backbiting and criticising others uncharitably. We do not want to spend all our time pointing at the splinter in our neighbors’ eyes while there is a wooden beam sitting in our own eyes. These are not what we have in our storage. Rather we want to show that we are filled with love, sense of friendship, faith and the decency that Christ and Ben Sira have taught us by their examples.
We want to be that good natured trees of Psalm 1 that bear good fruits of love, good will, prudence, with constructive words towards our neighbors, since “out of the fullness of heart the mouth speaks” (Lk 6:45).