Day 288: Battling Against Gossip
1 Maccabees 7:1-20 Demetrius, the rightful heir to the Syrian monarchy who had been imprisoned in Rome for some years, returned to claim his throne and ordered the execution of both Lysias and Antiochus. Both the Hellenized Jews and the Hasideans began criticizing the Maccabees and asked the king to name the corrupt Alcimus as high priest. Demetrius complied, and sent Alcimus and the commander Bacchides to wage war on Judea. Alcimus now governed Judah.
Ch 7:21-50 Although outnumbered, Judas turned to God in prayer and his army won a great victory over the Syrian forces. The commemoration of this event became a minor Jewish feast called the “Day of Nicanor,” but it fell into disuse not long afterward.
Sirach 19:1-30 Gossip and indiscretion are clear manifestations of a lack of both prudence and wisdom. An important condition for the capacity to discern wisely is a solid spiritual life and deep knowledge of moral law and its applications. (CCC 348, 1950)
Ch 19:17 Other ancient authorities add verses 18 and 19: “...and do not be angry. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of acceptance, and wisdom obtains his love. The knowledge of the Lord’s commandments is life-giving discipline; and those who do what is pleasing to him enjoy the fruit of the tree of immortality.”
Ch 19:20 Other ancient authorities add verse 21: “...and the knowledge of his omnipotence. When a servant says to his master, ‘I will not act as you wish,’ even if he does it, he angers the one who supports him.”
Ch 20:1-31 The wise person can identify easily a foolish person, who should not be taken seriously. The prudent and discrete individual listens and can be of great service in both instruction and correction, which are Spiritual Works of Mercy. (CCC 1793, 2447)
Ch 20:2 Other ancient authorities add verse 3: “How good it is to show repentance when you are reproved, for so you will escape deliberate sin!”
Ch 21:1-31 This chapter applies wisdom to practical details. From avoidance of near occasions of sin to the practice of good manners, the author contrasts the way of the foolish with the ways of the wise.
Ch 21:28 The practice of temperance and self mastery includes curbing the tongue. This proverb should be understood as a severe warning against gossip, calumny, detraction, and other sins that can endanger the reputation of others. To speak ill of others so as to damage their good name is a serious offense. To gossip about matters that are untrue or unsubstantiated constitute slander and calumny, which are particularly grave offenses against the Eighth Commandment. (CCC 2477)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
What do we have in 1 Maccabees
As happened when we read Chronicles, Kings, Joshua, or Judges
ONE KING RISES AND THEN FALLS
ANOTHER KING RISES AND ANOTHER KING FALLS
We have all of this rising and falling
The Jewish people continue to fight
Now we have the rise of Demetrius, the son of Seleucus
Kind of a big deal
The Seleucid Empire came after Alexander the Great
So now Demetrius is waging war against the Israelites as well
He killed Antiochus and Lysias
And now he sends Bacchides
We went from Hebrew names, no problem to pronounce (maybe for Fr. Mike...I can’t pronounce most of them to save my life 😉), to Greek names, kind of a problem to pronounce, so what do you say? It’s all Greek to me 🤪
So once again we have the witness of Judas Maccabeus and the men of Israel
What are they doing?
They go into battle
THEY ALWAYS PRAY AHEAD OF TIME!!
There is GREAT WISDOM here
We have learned this so many times before
You and I are CALLED TO BATTLE
THE BATTLE IS NOT WITH FLESH AND BLOOD
THE BATTLE IS WITH PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS
What do we do?
As Christians, WE HAVE TO PRAY
WE HAVE TO PRAY!!
“Lord, the battle belongs to you. Lord God, the victory belongs to you.”
What we need to do is call upon the name of the Lord WHENEVER WE ENTER INTO BATTLE
Because this is a transition into the spiritual battle we all experience in Sirach Ch 19
HOW INCREDIBLE IS THIS?
True Wisdom Contrasted to Cleverness and Evil
MAN!! (OH MAN!!)
Sirach 19:7, “Never repeat a conversation, and you will lose nothing at all.”
HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A PIECE OF WISDOM?!
Sirach 19:4, “One who trusts others too quickly is lightminded.”
We already talked about having to TEST a friend before we TRUST a friend
Sirach 19:5, “One who rejoices in wickedness will be condemned, and for one who hates gossip evil is lessened.”
Sometimes we rejoice in wickedness in terms of being happy when someone has sinned
Other times we are happy when someone’s sin is found out and it’s someone we don’t like
Not as a matter of JUSTICE
But as a matter of VENGEANCE
“Oh, so-and-so is not as good as we thought? Hooray!”
That little personal enjoyment inside
Here is Scripture telling us otherwise
Sirach 19:8-10, “With friend or foe do not report it, and unless it would be a sin for you, do not disclose it. For someone has heard you and watched you, and when the time comes he will hate you. Have you heard a word [of gossip]? Let it die with you. Be brave! It will not make you burst!”
GOSH YOU GUYS!!
If you struggle with gossip, Sirach Ch 19 IS YOUR FRIEND
OH MAN!! (MAN!! Haha did it backwards this time 😉)
“I have this thing I just have to say. You guys I just have to say this…”
That’s what we say, right?
Sirach 19:11, “With such a word a full will suffer pangs like a woman in labor with a child. Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of the thigh, so is a word inside a fool.”
MAN!! (OH MAN!! Ok back to the normal way 😉)
We can be always tempted to say this, “I just have to say this. You know what? Ok don’t repeat this, but here’s the thing…”
How many times have we all said something like that?
Sirach 19:13, “Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it…”
Sirach 19:14, “Question a neighbor, perhaps he did not say it…”
Sirach 19:15, “Question a friend, for often it is slander…”
GIVE PEOPLE THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT!!
There is a teaching for monastic life (monks living in monasteries)
One of the rules is ALWAYS ASSUME THE GOOD WILL OF YOUR BROTHER OR OF YOUR SISTER
THIS IS GREAT WISDOM AND A GREAT GUIDELINE FOR US!!
Wherever we live, whether it be a convent, monastery, or our own houses with our families
This is what’s happening here in Sirach
“Hey, before you make a judgment, question your friend. Maybe they didn’t do it. Maybe they didn’t mean it like that.”
There is SO MUCH WISDOM HERE
It’s worth going back through Sirach and turning these JEWELS OF WISDOM over and over in our minds and writing them down in your notebooks, or a post-it (Or in The Bible in a Year Study Guide if you print out these thousands of pages of notes 😉)
Write it down and say, “Ok I’m capturing this piece of wisdom for myself or for my child or for my niece or nephew.”
WHOEVER THAT PERSON IS
ONE LAST NOTE in Sirach Ch 20
There is something about WISDOM AND WISE SPEECH
Sirach 20:19, “An ungracious man is like a story told at the wrong time, which is continually on the lips of the ignorant.”
How often are we like this?
Sirach 20:20, “A proverb from a fool’s lips will be rejected, for he does not tell it at its proper time.”
The Sacred Author mentions this a couple of times
This ill-placed, misplaced piece of wisdom CEASES TO BE WISE
Here’s a story that COULD be helpful, that COULD contribute AT SOME POINT
BUT NOT AT THIS POINT
There is the GIFT OF PRUDENCE which is doing the RIGHT THING AT THE RIGHT TIME IN THE RIGHT WAY
This is one of the reasons why WISDOM IS SO PRACTICAL!!
PRUDENCE IS SO PRACTICAL!!
So go back and read Sirach 19:19-20
It takes us back to the GIFT OF PRUDENCE
THAT SPIRIT OF PRUDENCE
THAT ABILITY TO KNOW, “Ok, I can do the right thing at the right time in the right way. I can say the right thing at the right time in the right way.”
To have that gift IS A GIFT not only to YOURSELF, but to the PEOPLE AROUND US
We have the Word of God in our hearts and in our ears SHAPING THE WAY WE SEE
AND HOPEFULLY SHAPING THE WAY WE SPEAK
THE WAY WE LOOK
THE WAY WE LIVE
AND THE WAY WE LOVE EACH OTHER AND THE LORD
FR. MIKE IS PRAYING FOR YOU
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
PRAY FOR EACH OTHER
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and we offer you our thanksgiving today. Thank you for continuing to direct us the right way to walk. We ask you to help us not only to know the right way to walk, but to choose it. Not only to know the right way to live, but to actually live that way. Without your Grace, Lord God, we can know but we can’t do. We can be aware but we can’t act. So please, help us not only to know your Law, to know your Will, to know your Wisdom, but to be wise and to walk in your Law and to walk in your Will this day and every day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”