November 13, 2017

Gospel LK 17:1-6
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.
It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck
and he be thrown into the sea
than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.
Be on your guard!
If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day
and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’
you should forgive him.”
And the Apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”
“Jesus said to his disciples,
“Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur.”
What exactly does Jesus mean when He say’s “woe to the one through whom they occur?”
He is saying “woe” or heartbreak to the person who causes others to sin.
We don’t usually think of ourselves as causing others to sin. We may quickly pass over Jesus’ words, thinking they only apply to those who deliberately, and with selfish intent, cause others to sin.
We may say to ourselves, “I would never cause another to sin!”
But, when discussing this passage, a friend observed that we tempt others to sin when we entice them to join us in gossiping about others.
Gossip comes in many forms: sharing disparaging stories about people, offering opinions about what other people do or their motives, or hearing and then spreading a juicy morsel of gossip.
When I gossip, I sin, and I invite others to do the same. I invite those who listen into a never ending circle of sinful character assassination.
Several years ago, I fell into the bad habit of what I felt was harmlessly gossiping about others with a priest friend of mine. We quickly realized that gossiping is like eating chocolate; you can do it without thinking about it!
We decided that every time we caught ourselves gossiping, we would pull on our own earlobe. Within a week, we both felt as if our earlobes were touching our shoulders.
Now, when I hear someone spreading a rumor or telling a defamatory tale about someone else, I ask, “How do they know what they are saying is true? And, is there any positive benefit for me to listen to this?”
Lord, help me not to lead anyone into the sin of gossiping. Let me remember my mother’s advice: “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29