Things coming out from our tongue, this must be wrong

May 31, 2008

One day on a bus to St. Mary’s church, I was chatting with my fiance about two things that I felt God is asking me to change: first is pride, second is my tongue.

Strangely that night, after I went back from prayer meeting and did my night prayer, I read this scripture passage from James 3:1-10. Since I was involved in a teaching ministry, the first line struck me quite hard:

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.

I was stunned, and a bit scared to read further, but I know the Lord is trying to say something to me. Please do read the passage from the link above, if you have not. It’s a beautiful passage.

And then it moves on to speak about tongue:

[5] So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!
[6] And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.
[7] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind,
[8] but no human being can tame the tongue — a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
[9] With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.
[10] From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.

The last sentence linger in my mind for a few minutes, “My brethren, this ought not to be so”. How many times do we praise God with our tongue? But with this same tongue, we gossip, blame others, boast, lie (small or big, white or black), grumble, complain, and even curse sometimes.

What words that came from our tongue when we were at the office or at the school? What kind of things that shoot up when we chat with our friends, or colleague? What kind of words that we speak to our parents or spouses?

Are they praises? or are they curses?

With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.

Are we aware that these things are sin? When we go to mass, do we confess it before the Lord? I find it interesting that when the prophet Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, this is what happens:

[2] Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.

[3] And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

[4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

[5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

[6] Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

[7] And he touched my mouth, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven.” (Isaiah 6)

I found it interesting that the first few words that Isaiah said is “Woe is me! for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Woe am I, for I know too that I am a man of unclean lips. I know how bad I am in controlling my tongue. I am aware that I sometimes hurt others with my words, I sometimes joked the Lord’s priest and not speak the Lord’s name with honor, I sometimes did not speak the truth. Woe am I.

But the Lord is slow to anger and full of compassion, just as the Lord touched Isaiah’s mouth and made it clean, and send him out, we too are made clean and send out.

This is what is happening in the mass, we have the chance to be forgiven, we have the chance to be purified. And by the Lord’s grace, and not on our own, we can praise the LORD, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD God of hosts”, and we can embrace him humbly in our mouth as we receive Holy Communion.

And, at the end of the mass, as the priest sends us out “to serve and love the Lord in each others”, we too are sent.

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6 : 8 )


He wakes me to listen like a disciple

March 20, 2008

I realized yesterday reading was the same as the one in Palm Sunday. It’s from Isaiah.

[4] The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him that is weary.
Morning by morning he wakens,
he wakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
[5] The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious,
I turned not backward.

The translation from Jerusalem bible used the word “disciple”. It says

“he wakes me to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I have not resisted,
neither did I turn away.”

This is what a disciple ought to be. To listen to the Master. The reading shows as if all the work belongs God’s work. It is He that teaches and trains the disciple. It is he that even wakens our ears. But for us, the disciple, we are simply invited to follow, and not to resist. We are invited not to turn away.

Have we been resisting God all this time? Have we shut the doors of our heart? Have we no longer listen to His voice in our conscience, or the Scripture, or even through the Church?

He is our shepherd, He will lead us through the green pasture. For our part, we are simply invited not to resist his gentle calling, we are invited not to turn away from him.