Sir. 27:4-7; 1 Cor. 15:54-58; Lk. 6:39-45
The first reading is taken from the book of Ecclesiasticus. This book contains wise and precious advice on a number of topics. Today’s reading deals with human speech, and tells us that the character of person is revealed in his conversation. Today’s Gospel also confirms the same message. Every tree can be told by its own fruit. Out of the good treasure of the heart, the good person produces good, and out of evil treasure, the evil person produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks."
Speaking, writing and reading are integral to everyday life, where language is the primary tool for expression and communication. How people use language – what words and phrases they unconsciously choose and combine – can help us to understand why people behave the way they do. Stanford linguists and
psychologists study how language is interpreted by people. Even the slightest differences in language use can correspond with biased beliefs of the speakers, according to research. Language can play a big role in how we perceive the world, and linguists work to discover what words and phrases can influence us, unknowingly.
What we say and how we say it can impact someone's life, either for the better or for the worst. Even a single word, like "yes," can be a green light that implies, "Go, you're on the right track."
A music teacher has narrated a very touching incident. She met a young man with sad green eyes and lips that never seemed to smile. He had enrolled in my Music Theory class at a California Community College located in the small town. On the first day of class students milled around deciding which seat to take. It was hard not to notice the only six-foot boy, Edward, as he walked into the classroom a few minutes late and positioned himself in the back row. He slumped into his chair and lowered his head with his arms folded across his chest in a defying manner. Weeks progressed and tests were given. Edward did not do well. Finally, Edward finished the exam.
It was time for the students to receive the final grade. Edward came to office when she was about the close the office and leave. His eyes were sunk with dark black circles under them. He spoke to her in a low voice.
"I know that I'm getting a low grade on my final. I realize that I haven't been participating in class and that I am an embarrassment to others. I'm lazy, selfish, stupid, and an ugly no-good-for-anything person.”
When he had finished, the teacher looked directly into his somber eyes, and said, "Edward, your final grade is an A."
His reaction was one of total and complete surprise. "You are giving me an A? Why would you give me an A when I did such a poor job in class?”
The teacher said, "You may appear to be a D student, but you are an A person. I believe in you.”
That night the teacher received a phone call. The person said: "I am the priest from Edwards' Church. I want to thank you for saving his life today." He said that Edward had left a note on his pillow when he went to receive his final grade.
It read: "I am sorry that I could not be the kind of son and brother you all wanted me to be. All I ever wanted was to be loved. I am sorry for being unlovable. I will go now. I am sorry for any inconvenience I have caused you. Please have my body cremated. My small savings is in the top right-hand drawer of the dresser. "
When the teacher gave him an A, it represented that she believed in him and that she loved him and would be there for him. At that very moment, something changed within him.
He had never heard those words before, and it gave him hope. This is all he needed. He left her office feeling positive and uplifted for the first time in his life. He felt so good. He decided to re-live the confirmation he had heard.
We all feel happy in the company of certain people. Some people spread joy when they speak and they share with everyone the interior joy they possess. Some people impress us with their sincerity in their conversation. Some people always have a word of consolation or encouragement for anyone who suffers. Some people readily hasten to calm down others. Some people are quick to offer a sincere word of apology, the moment they realize they have offended anyone.
Today’s readings tell us to find in which category we belong to. Jesus brings his teachings to a close with a comparison taken from everyday experience. We judge the quality of a tree by the fruits it yields and the quality of a person from his words.
Jesus always expressed great warmth in his words. We see Jesus encouraging Peter to follow him. We see Jesus forgiving the sins of the Paralytic. We hear Jesus consoling the window of Nain. We find Jesus intervening with the apostles in favour of children. We experience the tenderness of Jesus when he takes Jairus’ daughter by hand and raising back to life telling, “Little girl, get up.”
God presented us with the gift of speech that we may spread joy and love just as Jesus did. Our task in this world is to be God’s messengers to communicate his love, joy, compassion and forgiveness.