Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Lectionary: 222

If you remove from your midst oppression,
false accusation and malicious speech;

I have often reflected on the principle of speaking truth but recently I have found my red hot finger of blame pointing back at me. The first clause of today's reading from Isaiah 58 skewers me to the wall: "If you remove from your midst... false accusation and malicious speech."

It reminds me of how often I fall into an inarticulate apoplexy while I watch the evening news or listen to the radio. I often amen the loudest voice in the room who says what I want to hear. My speech is usually unguarded when I am surrounded by my fellow ideologues, with those who read the same newspapers, scan the same websites, and listen to the same radio.

How disciplined are my words when I push my point of view into the furious stream of conversation at the table or in the break room? Am I speaking the truth or regaling the crowd with my wit? How often do I look for an alternative point of view which might dare to speak truth to me?

Saint Augustine famously said, "It always takes courage to speak the truth." Seeking and speaking the truth are not part-time occupations. Discerning what to say and when to say must be guided by the Holy Spirit who counsels me to "live the truth in love." 

Father Germain -- God rest his soul -- had a wonderful expression, "The Holy Spirit grabbed my tongue and I could say nothing." 

Lord, grab my tongue more often, even as you held Zechariah's, and permit me to speak the truth in love only when you release it. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

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