~  Words and Power   ~

[Sirach 27:4-7; Ps 91:2-3, 13-16; 1 Cor 15:54-58; Mk 6:39-45]

Words are very powerful, and they can build or destroy a family or community. They are creative. God Himself used words when he created the world and all that is in the world. He used words to create man. We use words to bless or to curse, to congratulate or to condemn. Whatever the usage we engage with words, we are reminded today in the readings that a man's words flow out from what fills his heart.

The heart is the seed of whatever we say and if the heart is good and holy, we shall utter good words. If the heart if bad, we are going to utter bad words. This accounts for why Jesus notes that "There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit" (Mk 6:43). This can be interpreted to mean there is no sound heart that produces bad fruit and vice versa.

Dear friends in Christ, if we have an unclean heart, then our words are going to be hurting and destructive. In that sense we cannot be true leaders. Jesus himself asks if one blind man can lead another? (Mk 6:39). If our hearts are darkened with evil, we cannot lead others especially because our words will divide rather than gather. What I have noticed is that when our hearts our not clean, we are empty and wanting in so many ways. To fill that emptiness or void, we rather turn to gossips and criticise others. We see the splinter in others' eyes but forget the plank that is in ours. (Mk 6:41-42). In other words, we see faults in the actions of everyone else but never see our own faults, no matter how big they are.

We must learn dear friends to purify our hearts so that our words can be creative and pure. Purification of the heart comes if we allow ourselves to be shaken by God in a sieve so that our rubbish is left behind (Sirach 27:4). It gives us the opportunity to sieve every word of ours so that the words that go out of us build and not scatter. We must work on this everyday otherwise we practice duplicity in speech, lies telling, perjury, and become hypocrites because we do not practice what we say.

We can only do these if we let sin die in our lives, let us therefore pray for the graces to purify our hearts so that the words that flow from our hearts are words that build and not destroy.

Adapted from Homily of Fr E Rinda, as taught at St Joseph’s, Basingstoke
on 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) (2018)