O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Blessed are you, creator of all,
to you be praise and glory for ever.
As your dawn renews the face of the earth
bringing light and life to all creation,
may we rejoice in this day you have made;
as we wake refreshed from the depths of sleep,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God for ever.
Jesus called the crowd again and said to them, ‘Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile.’
When he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, ‘Then do you also fail to understand? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters, not the heart but the stomach, and goes out into the sewer?’ (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, ‘It is what comes out of a person that defiles. For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.’
Jesus said: It is what comes out of a person that defiles.
In 1942, following the success of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Fantasia’ and ‘Dumbo’, Walt Disney released his fifth feature-length movie: ‘Bambi’. In that film there is a character called Thumper. Thumper is a rabbit who described the young Bambi as being ‘kinda wobbly’. When he voices this observation, his mother scolds him and makes him repeat the maxim that had been impressed upon him by his father only that morning: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all. This teaching is now referred to as: the ‘Thumperian principle’, or ‘Thumper’s rule’, or ‘Thumper’s law’. However you choose to think about it, and despite it’s rather convoluted use of the English language, it is a principle that sums up Jesus’ teaching in today’s reading: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.
Too often we revel in the negative. We hang on the gossip and conjecture that puts others in a poor light. Even when there is no evidence to support the negativity that is being expressed, we listen and then we repeat and magnify all that we have heard. It is true that no such tale ever diminishes as it is retold!
In our modern age we have easy access to the news media, an industry and profession that seems to be predicated on peddling the negative. The media in all its forms seems to specialise in fuelling our love of gossip and conjecture. Where there is no evidence, hints are dropped. Where wrongdoing is uncovered, it is always portrayed as being deliberate and wicked, never allowing room for human error and misunderstanding. The actions of all who fall under the spotlight of media scrutiny are seen as being evil.
Of course, the actions cited by Jesus are evil and do distance us from God. But, so does our propensity to gossip and misrepresent. Jesus’ catalogue of evil intentions are not arranged in any sort of hierarchical order, they are all just as bad as each other! So, our capacity for deceit, envy, slander and pride are just as bad as the capacity of others for fornication, theft, murder and adultery. Every single one of those evil intentions damages us and others. Every single one of those evil intentions diminishes our lives and the lives of our ‘victims’. Every single one of those evil intentions adds to the barrier we create between ourselves and God.
Let us pray that we might remember Jesus’ teaching in the words of Thumper: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all. Let us pray that as we revel in the infamy and misfortune of others we might remember that the damage we are doing is as much to ourselves as to those we criticise and vilify. Let us pray that we might stand firm in Christ’s call to love our neighbours … and our enemies.
In peace, let us pray to Jesus our Lord,
who ever lives to make intercession for us.
Saviour of the world,
be present in all places of suffering, violence and pain,
and bring hope even in the darkest night.
Inspire us to continue your work of reconciliation today.
Lord of the Church,
empower by your Spirit all Christian people,
and the work of your Church in every land.
Give us grace to proclaim the gospel joyfully in word and deed.
Shepherd and Guardian of our souls,
guide and enable all who lead and serve this community
and those on whom we depend for our daily needs.
Grant that we may seek the peace and welfare of this place.
stretch out your hand to bring comfort, wholeness and peace
to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.
Fill us with compassion, that we may be channels of
your healing love.
Conqueror of death,
remember for good those whom we love but see no longer.
Help us to live this day in the sure and certain hope of
your eternal victory.
Let us commend ourselves, and all for whom we pray,
to the mercy and protection of God.
whose Son went among the crowds
and brought healing with his touch:
help us to show his love,
in your Church as we gather together,
and by our lives as they are transformed
into the image of Christ our Lord.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The Lord bless us and watch over us,
the Lord make his face shine upon us
and be gracious to us,
the Lord look kindly on us
and give us peace;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among us and remain with us always.
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