Grace to you!
Words are powerful. They build. They equally destroy. Gracious words inspire. Words of sour taste discourage.
Writing to the Colossians, Saint Paul admonished them to speak words that are gracious, “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). If Saint Paul advocated gracious speech for non-believers and outsiders, those who weren’t within the Christian fold or the family, how much more for friends and family?
Many times, family feuds are the result of words spoken in the past. Perhaps, the speaker no longer remembers. Yet those words have created a deep wound, having eaten up the bond of family union, and causing indescribable hurtful memories.
Consider the memories about our friends. What do we remember the most? What do we carry within us for days, weeks, months and even years? Are they the gifts we received, the places we traveled together, the games we watched?
Often, aren’t they the words spoken, texted or emailed? Like a rubber stamp, those words stick.
Many times, we can forget most of the non-verbal interactions and socialization, but gracious words are priceless and unforgotten. We relish them. They reinforce the sweet tenderness of our friendship. Memories feed on those thoughts. It’s human.
In the same way, unkind words are hardly forgotten. They never go away. They tend to stick, really obstinately. I hope they don’t, unfortunately they do. Only the grace of God and serious effort on our part to forgive—a process that takes a lot of time—could heal the impact of those memories.
The terrible evil of cyber bullying is fueled by the jeering and the taunting expressed through words, unkind words. Many work-place abuse or racial discriminatory accusations are built off of spoken, ungracious words.
One wouldn’t be surprised that one of the wise sayings from Ben Sirach, the attributed author of the biblical book Sirach, who wrote extensively about friendship, was on gracious speech. “A kind mouth” he says, “multiplies friends and appeases enemies, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings” (Sirach 6:5).
We have to be certain about this: Gracious words build relationships. Unkind words create tension and sour relationships. Unkind words can erode trust and can cause us to be uncomfortable in conversation, due to the feeling of being judged or misjudged.
Truth must be told, all the time, but always in love. If the graciousness related to the truth, which by nature is also beautiful, can’t be communicated, then silence is golden. Better be silent than speak with the tongue of sourness.
Praying that God will give us the grace to speak graciously, all the time. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.