Our speech

Pope Francis

27.02.22 Angelus, St Peter's Square

8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Luke 6: 39-45

Dear brothers and sisters, good afternoon!

In the Gospel of today’s Liturgy, Jesus invites us to reflect on the way we look and the way we speak. Our gaze and our speech.

First of all, our gaze. The risk we run, the Lord says, is that we concentrate on looking at the mote in our brother’s eye without noticing the beam in our own (cf. Lk 6: 41). In other words, being very attentive to the faults of others, even those as small as a speck, serenely overlooking our own, according them little weight. What Jesus says is true: we always find reasons for blaming others and justifying ourselves. And very often we complain about things that are wrong in society, in the Church, in the world, without first questioning ourselves and without making an effort to change ourselves first. Every fruitful, positive change must begin from ourselves. Otherwise, there will be no change. But, Jesus explains, by doing this, our gaze is blind. And if we are blind, we cannot claim to be guides and teachers for others: indeed, a blind man cannot lead another blind man, says the Lord (cf. v. 39).

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord invites us to clean up our gaze. To clean up our gaze. He first asks us to look within ourselves to recognize our failings. Because if we are not capable of seeing our own defects, we will always be inclined to magnify those of others. If instead we acknowledge our own mistakes and our own flaws, the door of mercy opens up to us. And after looking within ourselves, Jesus invites us to look at others as he does – this is the secret, to look at others as he does – looking first not at evil, but at goodness. God looks at us in this way: he does not see irredeemable errors in us, but children who make mistakes. It is a change in outlook: he does not concentrate on the mistakes, but on the children who make mistakes. God always distinguishes the person from his errors. He always saves the person. He always believes in the person and is always ready to forgive errors. We know that God always forgives. And he invites us to do likewise: not to look for evil in others, but good.

After our way of looking, today Jesus invites us to reflect on our speech. The Lord explains that “out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks” (v. 45). It is true, from the way a person speaks, you can tell straight away what is in their heart. The words we use say who we are. At times, though, we pay scarce attention to our words and we use them superficially. But words carry weight: they enable us to express thoughts and feelings, to give voice to the fears we have and the plans we intend to realize, to bless God and others. Unfortunately, though, through language we can also feed prejudices, raise barriers, harm and even destroy; we can destroy our brothers with language. Gossip hurts and slander can be sharper than a knife! These days, especially in the digital world, words travel fast; but too many of them convey anger and aggression, feed false news and take advantage of collective fears to propagate distorted ideas. A diplomat, who was the Secretary General of the United Nations, said that “'to abuse words is to scorn the human being' (D. HAMMARSKJÖLD, Waymarks, Magnano BI 1992, 131).

Let us then ask ourselves what type of words we use: words that express care, respect, understanding, closeness, compassion, or words that aim mainly to make us look good in front of others? And then, do we speak mildly or do we pollute the world by spreading venom: criticizing, complaining, feeding widespread aggression?

May Our Lady, Mary, whose humility God has watched over, the Virgin of silence to whom we now pray, help us purify our gaze and our speech.