Homily Eight Sunday Year C Filter your negative thoughts

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Homily Eighth Sunday Year C

Reading 1: One’s speech and words tell us much about a person: character, values, motives and true self. One uses a sieve or a strainer to separate the useful and good from what will be discarded. As the reading says: “So too does one’s speech discloses the bent of one’s mind.”

What is our strainer? How conscious are we of our speech? Do we control and filter our thoughts before we speak them? Or do we speak whatever comes to mind, regardless of the consequences?

The Letter of James speaks of the important role our tongues have. Like
the rudder of a boat or the steering wheel of a car, the person can direct the boat or car in whatever direction. James says: “The tongue is a small part but it moves great things. By our tongues we bless God and speak evil of others, who have been made in the likeness of God.”

A woman confessed that she had gossiped about her neighbor. The priest gave her two penances: one was to take a feather pillow and spread the feathers over the neighborhood; then come back to him. When she did, he told her to go and retrieve each feather. She said that was impossible. Then he said do you see the destruction you have caused when you said what you said about your neighbor?

Reading 2: Death is inevitable for each person. As the scriptures say, there is a time to be born and a time to die.  The question is will death defeat us or will we defeat death?

Paul tells us that through Jesus we have been given the victory over the second death, which is eternal alienation from God. In faith we know that we will live eternally. Physical death is a moment in life. But if we die separated from God our eternity will be a continuation of the same. If we die in union with God, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, then we, by God’s grace and mercy, will live with God eternally.

What will make the difference in our life? Paul tells us. “To be firm, steadfast and always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Gospel: Jesus picks up the theme of the first reading. How easy is it for us to notice the faults of others but are blinded to our own more serious failings? Not only do we notice the other’s faults, but we verbalize them in a judgmental and condemning way. Jesus calls this hypocrisy! We are being two-faced.

Jesus tells us to work on our own faults first. Clean our own closet from its skeletons. And if we are led by God to encourage another to deal with a fault, do it in and out of love.

As we enter into Lent, what better area to work on than our thoughts and speech? What would happen to us if we would spend Lent conscious of filtering our negative, judgmental, critical, angry and destructive thoughts about others? What, if instead of letting these stir within us, we brought them to the foot of the cross before we spoke them? Would we be putting into practice the admonition of Paul when he said: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”?

If we did work on our thoughts and speech this Lent maybe several things would be accomplished. We would be working on the junk within each of us, with the awareness of the inevitability of death and its eternal consequences. We would also build up in love the other persons around us, by not judging them but encouraging them.

Yes, there is a law of sin within each of us. But there is also the law of grace to help us overcome this law of sin if we so choose. God’s grace is sufficient. It’s our openness that grace that is one of the calls of Lent.

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