Pope Francis spoke today about how gossip by Christians is a “slap” to Jesus “in the person of his children.”
“All three - disinformation, defamation and slander - are sins! This is sin! It is to slap Jesus in the person of his children, his brothers,” the Pope said May 18 in the chapel of St. Martha’s House.
The topic came up in Pope Francis’ homily because of the day’s Gospel reading from John 21 in which Peter asks if John will be alive when Jesus returns to earth.
“What is it to you?” the pontiff began his homily, referring to Jesus’ response to Peter, who was being tempted “to interfere in the lives of others.”
Peter became “nosy,” Pope Francis remarked, noting that there are two ways people are tempted to get involved in others’ lives. The first is “to compare oneself with others” and the second is to gossip.
“It seems nice to chat,” he reflected, “I do not know why, but it looks nice. Like sweet of honey, right? You take one and then another, and another, and another, and in the end you have a stomach ache. And why? The chatter is like that eh? It is sweet at first and it ruins you, it ruins your soul!”
The Pope then referred back to Genesis, saying that gossip is “‘a little’ like the spirit of Cain who killed his brother, his tongue; it kills his brother!”? The consequence of gossiping is that “we become Christians of good manners and bad habits,” he warned, later repeating the description.
According to Pope Francis, people fail in this area in three ways: by giving “misinformation,” by making known the faults of others, and by telling lies about others.
“That is why Jesus does with us what he did with Peter when he says: ‘What is it to you? Follow me.’ The Lord in this instance points the way,” he said.
“This kind of talk will not do you any good,” the Pope stated, “because it will just bring to the Church a spirit of destruction. ‘Follow me!’ These are the beautiful words of Jesus, it is so clear, that he has so much love for us. As if to say: ‘Don’t have fantasies, believing that salvation is in the comparisons with others or in gossip. Salvation is to go behind me.’”
Pope Francis finished his homily by saying, “Today we ask the Lord Jesus to give us this grace not to ever get involved in the lives of others, not to become Christians of good manners and bad habits, it is to follow Jesus, to walk behind Jesus on his way. And this is enough.”