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Saturday, February 21, 1998

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St. Peter Damian

James 3:1-10
Psalm 12
Mark 9:2-13

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"The tongue is something like that. It is a small member, yet it makes great pretensions." —James 3:5

In the Bible, there is probably more teaching about the tongue than all the other parts of the body combined. For example, when humanity became shattered, splintered, and separated by sin, our different tongues, that is, languages, indicated this (Gn 11:1ff). Then, when humanity was re-united at the first Christian Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came with "tongues as of fire" (Acts 2:3).

In every major section of the Bible, the Lord teaches us how to use our tongues and warns us about the consequences of misuse of the tongue. The Lord gives us countless teachings on the use of the tongue, especially in the Wisdom literature. This culminates in the book of James. The author of James teaches: "If a person is without fault in speech he is a man in the fullest sense, because he can control his entire body" (Jas 3:2). "See how tiny the spark is that sets a huge forest ablaze! The tongue is such a flame. It exists among our members as a whole universe of malice. The tongue defiles the entire body. Its flames encircle our course from birth, and its fire is kindled by hell" (Jas 3:5-6). The tongue "is a restless evil, full of deadly poison" (Jas 3:8). It cannot be tamed by human power, only by the power of God (Jas 3:8).

When you receive Jesus in Holy Communion today or tomorrow, when the body and blood of Jesus touches your tongue, consecrate yourself, and especially your tongue, to God. By His grace, use your tongue only for His glory and the building of His kingdom.

Prayer:  Father, I am all Yours forever. Teach me "what to say and how to speak" (Jn 12:49).

Promise:  "This is My Son, My Beloved. Listen to Him." —Mk 9:7

Praise:  Peter generally shared his meals with several poor people, serving them himself (see Lk 14:13-14).

Reference:  (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Speaking in Tongues.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, July 26, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 29, 1997