"Saint Joseph, man of silence, you who in the Gospel did not utter a single word, teach us to fast from vain words, to rediscover the value of words that edify, encourage, console and support. Be close to those who suffer from words that hurt, like slander and backbiting, and help us always to match words with deeds."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Learn" and practice silence, the contemplative dimension of life, "space of interiority in our days in which we give the Spirit the possibility to regenerate us, to console us, to correct us," space "in which another Word can emerge: that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, who brings Jesus."
Continuing the cycle of catechesis dedicated to St. Joseph, Pope Francis at today's general audience spoke of the silence of the one who educated Jesus to return to condemn "chatter," also evoking the biblical "the tongue kills more than the sword" to admonish "speaking in the right way, and biting your tongue a little, which can be good at times instead of saying foolish things".
Five thousand people were present in the Paul VI Hall and Francis spoke to them recalling “the Gospels do not report to us any words of Joseph," stressed that "Joseph's silence is not muteness, he is not a taciturn; it is a silence full of listening, an industrious silence, a silence that brings out his great interiority."
"And Jesus, in the carpenter's house in Nazareth, grew up in this 'school'", seeking "spaces of silence in his days" and inviting his disciples to have the same experience. "How beautiful it would be if each of us, following the example of St. Joseph, were able to recover this contemplative dimension of life opened up precisely by silence. But we all know from experience that it is not easy: silence frightens us a little, because it asks us to enter into ourselves and meet the truest part of us."
The Pope called on people to learn from “Saint Joseph how to cultivate spaces for silence in which another Word can emerge, that is, Jesus, the Word: that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, that Jesus brings. It is not easy to recognise that Voice, which is very often confused along with the thousand voices of worries, temptations, desires, and hopes that dwell within us; but without this training that comes precisely from the practice of silence, our tongue can also ail. Without practicing silence, our tongue can also ail. Instead of making the truth shine, it can become a dangerous weapon. Indeed, our words can become flattery, bragging, lies, backbiting and slander. It is an established fact that, as the Book of Sirach reminds us, “many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have fallen because of the tongue” (28:18), the tongue kills more than the sword. Jesus said clearly: whoever speaks ill of his brother or sister, whoever slanders his neighbour, is a murderer (cf. Mt 5:21-22). Killing with the tongue. We do not believe this, but it is the truth. Let us think a little about the times we have killed with the tongue: we would be ashamed! But it will do us good, a great deal of good."
"And the benefit to our hearts will also heal our tongue, our words and above all our choices. In fact, Joseph combined silence with action. He did not speak, but he acted, and thus demonstrated what Jesus once told his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 7:21). Silence. Fruitful words when we speak, and we remember that song: “Parole, parole, parole…”, words, words, words, and nothing of substance. Silence, speaking in the right way, and biting your tongue a little, which can be good at times instead of saying foolish things.."
Again today at the conclusion of his speech, Francis recited a prayer: "Saint Joseph, man of silence, you who in the Gospel did not utter a single word, teach us to fast from vain words, to rediscover the value of words that edify, encourage, console and support. Be close to those who suffer from words that hurt, like slander and backbiting, and help us always to match words with deeds."
And in his greeting to the German-speaking faithful, he then said, "In these last days of Advent, let us imitate the example of St. Joseph. Let us try to adopt an attitude of silence and listening, in order to be ready to receive the eternal Word of the Father, his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ."
A thought, finally, for the victims of the tanker truck explosion in Haiti, which claimed some 70 lives. "Poor Haiti - Francis commented - one after another, it is a people in suffering.... Let us pray, let us pray for Haiti: they are good people, good people, religious people but they are suffering so much." Francis said he was "close to the inhabitants of that city and to the families of the victims as well as to the injured," and invited the faithful to join "in prayer for these brothers and sisters of ours who are so harshly tried."