Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Speech
How often has the advice been given - "to think before you speak"; and how often, having said something hurtful, do we hear the expression -"I could have bitten my tongue off". Our use of the faculty of speech is a powerful reflection of our Christian personality, and all the readings today offer thoughts on how we should use it.

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17: The first duty of Christian ministry is to evangelise - to make known the good news by example and, where, possible, by word.. So we see Philip proclaiming Christ to the newly established Christian communities and, also, to other listeners.

1 Peter 3: 15-18:‚‚  Here Peter lays down some guidelines for the persecuted Christians to follow in their response to the opposition that they were experiencing‚‚  - to speak with courtesy and respect and to speak with conviction.

John 14: 15-21:‚‚  The gospel makes the point that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"! Words without backup action are useless. A complete Christian response is made up of listening, so as to know what we are talking about; speaking and acting.

Point 1: - Socrates, Greek philosopher who lived some 400 years before Christ and whose thoughts have greatly influenced people through the centuries, wrote -"Speak, that I may see thee ". Unlike many great teachers, he left no writings of his own but communicated his thoughts only by public speaking. His disciples recorded for us the contents of those lectures. For him, informed speech distinguished human life from other life forms; for Socrates, it is the faculty of speech that enables us to communicate our thoughts to others and to influence them - for good or for evil. We live in an age in which technology allows us to command audiences undreamed of by him. We are inundated with words around the clock - newspapers, magazines, radio announcers, TV presenters, priests and ministers! Too frequently, unfortunately, it is chatter that we are being fed. As Liza Doolittle, star of "My Fair Lady" complained -"Words, words, words! I'm so sick of words! Is that all you blighters can do"? Ben Johnson, English writer and poet, has left us this pearl of wisdom -"Talking and eloquence are not the same; to speak and to speak well are two things; a fool may talk, but a wise man speaks".

Point 2: Today's readings introduce us to this theme of speech and its use. Philip proclaimed Christ to the newly established Christian communities and, also, to other listeners. The responsorial psalm also reminds us of this duty to make known the God in whom we find our hope. Peter, in the second reading, lays down some guide lines for using speech - to speak with courtesy and respect for those to whom we are speaking; and, above all, to speak with conviction. The gospel makes the point that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"! Words without backup action are useless. A complete Christian response is made up of listening, so as to know what we are talking about; speaking and acting.

Conclusion:‚‚  With that in mind, it is worth while for us, regularly, to check on our use of the gift of speech.. In St. Matthew's gospel, we are advised that - [Mat 12:36] I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter". Do we constantly use this gift in a carping fashion - putting people in their place, cutting people down to size? Do we detract from the merits of others by criticising or putting a wrong interpretation on all they say or do? Or are we simply liars who try to give weight to our character by exaggeration? The basis of all confidence between people rests on honesty in speech. There is nothing worse than a person who does not say what he or she means, or does not mean what he or she says. Peter's advice read in the second reading is as relevant today as when written - " always have your answer ready for people who ask you for the reason for the hope that you all have; but give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience".

Scriptural reference: [James 3:2 - 5] For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect .....If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!

Vision Statement

We are:

* a welcoming community which reaches out to all
* celebrating Christ's presence
* joyfully living out our Christian calling across distance and diversity

This vision states that as a Diocese, we aim to be a welcoming, missionary, centred on Christ, and each striving to live one's particular vocation. It is in living out our calling that we praise God, follow Christ, influence society and achieve the goal of eternal life won for us by Christ. In the parishes we have encouraged people to measure whatever they do against this Diocesan vision.

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Catholic Diocese
of GERALDTON
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