On the heels of Cardinal Bertone’s “crows and vipers” remark about Vatican gossip, Pope Francis hits hard with a homily about “gossip that kills.”
The Church has always been especially vulnerable to envy. Envy’s prime expression in people is usually gossip, the urge to destroy or at minimum, damage a person with the least possible commitment to getting one’s own hands soiled.
After all, one can always withdraw one’s tongue inside one’s mouth.
I feel a responsibility to withdraw from conversations about gossip. I’m not sure that this sense has always been adopted among clergy I’ve worked for. In my first ministry assignment, it seemed the pastor was especially indulgent of listening to gossip–people really knew how to manipulate him. Gossip was the usual modus operandi for getting his attention. Parishioners and staff colleagues alikewere all vulnerable at times. I felt the sting of unfair lies on a few critical occasions.
My journey through Acts in my daily lectio divina, has me with Paul on his return to Jerusalem. Today’s passage struck me as a continuation of sorts of this theme:
(T)he Jews from Asia, who had seen him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd. They seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place; more than that, he has actually brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple. (Acts 21:27b-29)
Those “Jews from Asia” and people like that were dogging Paul all through his missionary journeys in Greece and present-day Turkey. When people, out of envy and hate, get their minds fixated on a target, no amount of fact will get in the way of invention.