Sunday, June 18, 2017
A Guest Prophet Speaks To the Issue of Words
The talking heads, the T.V. bloviaters, late night comedians, the Internet trolls, the tweeters and Face Book posters, when challenged about the harshness, the deceptiveness, the untruthfulness, the crassness and vulgarity of their words (or the words of a someone whom they are championing) are quick to deny that their words are responsible for violent actions taken by deranged individuals.
They find it implausible that there is any linkage between the persistently hate filled and unrestrained speech they feed their listeners and the violence that is metastasizing in our communities. They are, they protest, simply exercising their Constitution right of free speech. As though that right came with no concurrent responsibility for the consequences of that speech.
Eugene Peterson, when translating the Gospel of Matthew for The Message (his translation of the Bible) paraphrased in powerful language the already strong prophetic words of Jesus, warning of the consequences of violent, evil and indiscriminate speech.
The butt of this warning, spoken by Jesus, reported by St. Matthew, and translated by Peterson, was the Pharisees and other teachers and leaders of Jesus day. The political leaders, commentators and provocateurs of our day would do well to contemplate their words in light of this warning.
“You have minds like a snake pit!
How do you suppose what you say
is worth anything when
you are so foul-minded?
It’s your heart, not the dictionary,
that gives meaning to your words.
A good person produces good deeds
and words season after season.
An evil person is a blight on the orchard.
Let me tell you something:
Every one of these careless words
is going to come back to haunt you.
There will be a time of Reckoning.
Words are powerful; take them seriously.
Words can be your salvation.
Words can also be your damnation.”
(Matt 12:34-37 The Message)