8th Sunday Year C
Theme of the week: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” How can we break free?
Have you ever gossip? Have you ever spoken ill of another person? Most of us have! The Fifth Commandment commands us not to kill. Well, character assignation is another form for killing. The Eight Commandment commands us not to bear false witness against another. Speaking ill of another, even if the facts are true, is bearing false witness against that person.
As the author Sirach explains in the First Reading,
- “When a sieve is shaken, the refuse appears; so do a person’s faults when he speaks.” (verse 4)
- “The kiln tests the potter’s vessels; so the test of a person is in his conversation.” (verse 5)
- “Its fruit discloses the cultivation of a tree; so a person’s speech discloses the cultivation of his mind.” (verse 6)
Gossip is a sin that cuts both way. In addition to the injustice we inflict upon the target of our gossip, gossip also robs us of our humility. As Jesus explains in the Gospel, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbour’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” (verse 41) When we speak ill of another person, we often assume a stance of self-righteousness, failing to see our own faults. In this way, our faults are ironically laid bare for all to see when we gossip. As a popular saying goes, “when you point a finger at someone, inevitable, you are pointing three fingers back at yourself!”
When a sin such as gossip takes root in us, it becomes a habit. When sin becomes a habit, it becomes hard to break free. The more the law of God compels us not to sin, the more the forbidden fruit entices. This is what the Second Reading means when it say: “the power of sin is the law” (verse 56). In this way, as Jesus explained elsewhere in the Gospel: “Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” (Jn 8:34) The Second Reading further explains that “the sting of death is sin” (verse 56). Sin brings death, both spiritual and physical.
If I am enslaved to a certain sin, how do I break free? The key lies in a verse in last week’s Second Reading: “we … bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor 15:49). Yes, we bear the image of God. And it is through invoking our inner godliness that we are able to overcome our human frailty. The Second Reading explains, “when this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality.” (verse 54)
May God be with you.