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Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Cycle B
June 3, 2018
What We Speak Matters…Big Time!
By (Rev. Msgr.) Nicholas P. Amato
Today I want to reflect with you about the words that we use when we speak.
Our words are very important. They have an effect on us and to some extent, they form us as persons.
Our words also have an effect on others. They may lead others to feel good or to feel lousy about themselves, or to become angry or compassionate.
And because of this, our words have an effect on our relationship with God. So, my concern is that we need to be more intentional about our use of words.
As the saying goes, “We need to think before we speak.”For the past three or four months, I have been thinking about some basic rules for our use of words.
I’ve got six, quick, positive rules for the kinds of words we are to speak, and, corresponding negatives for the kinds of words we are to avoid. So, here goes!
Six Rules on Words
Number 1. Use words that are affirming and not belittling.
Affirm the good qualities of others or at least be respectful of them as persons. Don’t belittle others and make them appear as no good.
Number 2. Use words that are unitive and not divisive.
Emphasize the things that you share in common with others and that unite you. Don’t divide yourself from others, as if there is no common ground between you.
Number 3. Use words that are reconciling and not distancing.
Ask for forgiveness or be forgiving, or at least speak in a way that leaves the door open to reconciling. Don’t distance yourself from others especially by holding yourself as absolutely right and them as absolutely wrong.
Number 4. Use words that are protecting and not bullying.
Be protective of others who are vulnerable. Don’t bully them by taking advantage of their weakness or inferior position.
Number 5. Use words that are persuasive and not coercive.
Treat others as reasonable persons and try to respectfully persuade them about whatever the issue is. Don’t try to coerce others into seeing or doing things your way.
Number 6. Use words that are truthful and not untruthful.
Say things that you know or believe to be true, even if they are not in yourbest interest. Don’t say things that are untrue, as a way of making yourself look better.
The Body of Christ
Okay! I see these as six basic, but important rules on our use of words.
I think they are a timely refresher for us at this time. And I am moved to talk about this by today’s celebration in honor of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus gives us bread and wine, his body and blood as our spiritual food. Jesus also intends that his sacramental body would make us into his living body on this earth.
The result is that we need to live like the living body of Christ that we are. One very important way of doing this is in our use of words.
And so, my idea is that when we use words that are affirming, unitive reconciling, protecting, persuasive, and truthful – when we speak this language, we are being Eucharistic people. We are building up the living body of Christ on this earth.
But when we use words that are belittling, divisive, distancing, bullying, coercive, and untruthful – when we speak this language, we are not being Eucharistic people.
We are tearing down the living body of Christ on this earth – and we saw an unfortunate public example of this in the Roseanne Barr incident this past week!
So, I end as I began: our use of words is very important.
The words we speak to your spouse, your parents or children, to our classmates or co-workers, to our neighbors or friends, to people in this church or in this community – these are important and they have effects.
The words may be about those with whom we are speaking. Or they may be about other persons or groups – maybe persons of other nationalities, races, religions, or cultures.
Let’s you and I be an example of how to speak and what words to use and not to use.
Then we and our words will have a positive effect on our community and our entire American society.