Gossip has become rampant in our society. It has become the custom to speak about others the way one thinks and wishes. Unfortunately, this plague has entered practically every fabric of our society – state and church, families and convents, working and recreation places.
For some, the right to express oneself simply means lashing out at others to rid themselves of the bile they have in their stomach in order to harm their reputation without, of course, being in the least bothered about the catastrophic consequences of their irresponsible action.
Let us face it! Some people are very good at talking about others. They think they have the authority to offer opinions and judgments about others and to speak freely, as if they have everything figured out. Sometimes, they automatically translate mere impressions and hunches into hard proven facts.
The Word of God speaks clearly about the seriousness of maligning other people. In the letter of James, we find: “Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge” (Jam 4:11). The first letter of Peter the Apostle tells us: “So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander” (1 Pet 2:1). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives us the reason for not slandering others: “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt 15:11).
In the Diary of Saint Faustina, Jesus himself once more shows us the depravity of using our tongues irresponsibly when we voluntarily engage in idle talk to harm others. Let us not forget that those who have their minds and tongues occupied with the activities of other people have little time to look into their own souls to discover who they really are, which is really a human and spiritual tragedy.
“Today, I was talking with the Lord, and He said to me: ‘There are souls with whom I can do nothing. They are souls that are continuously observing others, but know nothing of what is going on in their own selves. They talk about others continually, even during times of grand silence, which is reserved for speaking only with Me. Poor souls, they do not hear My words; their interior remains empty. They do not look for Me within their own hearts, but in idle talk, where I am never to be found. They sense their emptiness, but they do not recognize their own guilt, while souls in whom I reign completely are a constant source of remorse to them. Instead of correcting themselves, their hearts swell with envy, and if they do not come to their senses, they plunge in even deeper. A heart, which thus far is envious, now begins to be filled with hate. And they are already at the edge of the precipice. They are jealous of my gifts in other souls, but they themselves are unable and unwilling to accept them’” (Diary, 1717).
Do I struggle with idle talk? In other words, do I talk regularly and freely about others by giving opinions and passing judgments on them while, at the same time, I fail to honestly evaluate my own soul? If I do this, I may find it hard to admit it at all. But if, and in all honesty, this is the real me, why not admit it here and now? Am I humble enough to tell our Lord that I am aware of this struggle and am desperately seeking His Mercy as my true help? Do I have any doubt that He will help me? How bold am I in being honest about my struggle?