Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Gossip "can kill because it can kill someone's reputation. Gossiping is such a bad thing. In the beginning, it might seem enjoyable and fun, but it eventually fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us. Here is the truth: I am convinced that if each one of us avoided gossip, we would eventually become saints," said the pope before today's Angelus, as he commented this Sunday's Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, "Jesus' first major act of preaching."
Before the Marian prayer, Francis said, "Today's theme is Jesus' attitude towards Jewish Law. He said, 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfil' (Mt, 5:17). Hence, Jesus does not want to cancel the Commandments the Lord gave through Moses; he wants to take them to their fullest. Fulfilling the Law requires a higher justice, a truer observance, he said right after [the above]. To his disciples, he said, 'I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdon of heaven' (Mt, 5:20)."
Yet, what does fully fulfilling the Law means? What is higher justice? "Jesus gives us the answer through a few examples. Jesus was a practical man. He always spoke through examples to make himself understood. He starts with the fifth commandment from the Decalogue: 'You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill . . . . But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment (Ibid, 5:21-22). With this, Jesus is reminding us that words too can kill."
Speaking off the cuff, the pope clarified the concept. "When saying that someone has a serpent's tongue, what do we mean? That his words can kill. Accordingly, not only we cannot attack someone else's life but we cannot pour the poison of anger over him and strike him with slander. Nor can we speak ill of him. Now let us talk about gossip. Gossip can kill because it can kill someone's reputation. Gossiping is such a bad thing. In the beginning, it might seem enjoyable and fun, but it eventually fills our hearts with bitterness and poisons us. Here is the truth: I am convinced that if each one of us avoided gossip, we would eventually become saints! That is a nice path, isn't it! Do we want to become saints, yes or no? Do we want to live tied to gossip, as usual, yes or no? We agree then: no gossip! Jesus offers those who follow him the perfection of love, a love whose only measure is not to have any measure, going beyond self-interest."
To love one's neighbour, Francis said, "is such an important attitude that Jesus says that our relationship to God cannot be honest if we are not willing to make peace with our neighbour. 'Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother' (Ibid, 5:23-24). Consequently, we are called to be reconciled first with our brothers before expressing our devotion to the Lord through prayer. From all this, it is clear that Jesus does not care only about disciplinary observance and external conduct. He goes to the root of the law, focusing on intent and thus man's heart, from which our good or evil actions originate."
In concluding, the pope said that to do good and honest deeds, "legal rules are not enough. Deep motivations are needed, the expression of a hidden wisdom, God's Wisdom, which can be received through the Holy Spirit. We, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves to the action of the Spirit, which enables us to experience God's love. In light of this teaching of Christ, every precept reveals its full meaning as a requirement of love, and everyone comes together in the greatest commandment: to love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself."