In one of the letters of St. Paul, we’re told, “Let the word of Christ, rich as it is, dwell in you.  In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another.  Sing gratefully to God from your hearts in psalms, hymns and inspired songs.  Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus.” 

 The gift of speech is to be used to praise and worship God.  It is used to create joy and laughter and song.  It is meant to persuade us in those things that are for our good and for God’s glory.  It is to be used to encourage one another in weakness, to support one another in difficulty, to express to one another our love.  The gift of speech can bring about forgiveness and reconciliation.  Every time we open our mouths it should be to bless and to praise, to thank God and to bring about the wholeness of one another for the glory of God.

Yet so many people abuse this gift of God by using it in a way never intended by God.  The Bible is full of admonition against evil talk.  We are exhorted to guard against using it for gossip or slander, not to sin by lying, by rash judgement, resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, malice, obscenity, anger or blasphemy.  Because of the pressure to conform in our society, because of the patterns of conversation that we have grown up with over the years, we are no longer sensitive to all the ways we can sin, all the ways we can misuse the gift of speech.

There’s a very clear message in the Scriptures for us to consider.  There are certain patterns of speaking and acting that we have to do something about right now.  Today!  Once we have become the followers of Christ – true Catholics – we must make decisions to put those old habits of speech aside.  We need to correct our patterns of speech, in order to build up the body of Christ, our family, rather than tear it down.

We need to guard our tongues and our lips.  We need to put a guard over our minds and emotions.  This is necessary not only to protect what we say but to guard what comes into our minds as well.  Daily, we ought to offer our tongues, our mouths, our lips to the Lord whom we receive in the Eucharist and ask Him to anoint them with the oil of goodness and justice so that our speech may nourish life within our family and among our friends and draw others into a deeper band of love for one other and for God.

Perhaps we can make this our task so that we can truly sing the praises of God with our renewed speech on Christmas Day and beyond.