[“I am completely trapped,” Susanna groaned.
“If I yield, it will be my death;
if I refuse, I cannot escape your power.
Yet it is better for me to fall into your power without guilt
than to sin before the Lord.”] (Daniel 13:22-23)
Susanna is placed in an impossible situation, either she commits adultery or she is condemned to death. In the face of such a dilemma, Susanna decides to die rather than commit sin. She recognizes a higher authority and a greater power than that of the corrupt elders.
Jesus now addresses the words to us which He had uttered to His disciples.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt. 10:28).
Throughout the course of our day we are presented with similar situations to that of Susanna’s, most especially in regards to gossip. We have the choice to put an end to gossip thereby possibly accepting “death” in the sight of others. Or, we can commit sin by joining in and perpetuating gossip. Susanna and Jesus both urge us to avoid committing sin despite the earthly consequences, and to place our hope God rather than social approval.
We all need to vent now and again, but it can be difficult to know when we’ve transitioned in our conversations from venting to gossip. Fr. Mike Schmitz provides some helpful advice which we can all benefit from. He suggests the 3 question rule.
1.) Is what I am about to say something true?
2.) Is what I am about to say something good?
3.) Is what I am about to say something useful?
-By “”useful” is meant whether my interlocutor can do anything about it—can they help me heal or help remedy the situation?
I think the sin of gossip is something we all struggle with from time to time especially when we’re angry with someone. We are challenged today to look honestly at ourselves.
- Do I choose to stand against gossip or do I perpetuate it?
- If I have gossiped, when is the soonest I can go to Confession?
- How can I begin to help myself and others avoid the sin of gossip?
Today we ask our Lord for courage to avoid gossip, and “say only the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them” (Ephesians 4:29b).