Good afternoon from Westminister cathedral!

Christmas is quickly approaching and tensions can be high!

Around this time of year gossip can be even more common than usual!

Who is coming for Christmas and why? Who is not coming and why not? What did Mary do at the Christmas party? Why isn’t Johnny married yet?

It goes on! How much did your christmas present cost? Why has uncle Bob put on weight? How did Patrick get that new car….

Gossip is indeed very dangerous as it tends to fill in these vacuums of knowledge with lies and negativity and sadly it is rife in church environments!

I was myself a victim to very malicious gossip once when I lived in Medjugorje!

Who is that young fella?

Why isn’t he working?

Why is he spending so much time with the priest?

etc.

And these questions got filled in with very dangerous lies which damaged both my reputation and many others including a priest.

Most gossips don’t even think they are gossiping! Somehow they feel that God has appointed and anointed them as His secret and undercover police force!

Speculation and imagination often combine forces to mercilessly destroy people and their reputations and ministries!

Perhaps the greatest victim of gossip was Jesus Himself who was ultimately crucified under false pretences!

I am convinced that if people prayed more and looked in the mirror of their souls and at their own brokeness and sins that they’d neither have the time nor the will to gossip about others!

So what should you do when you hear gossip?

A bit of advise that was given to me:

First, tell the person if they suspect something is wrong they should have the courage to confront the person involved in perpetrating it.

If that person denies it and they still believe something is wrong, they should report it to whoever is in charge of that person. Otherwise they should refrain from repeating what is probably malicious speculation.

Tell them you don’t want to listen to it again.

In other words, keep out of it and advise others to seek the truth directly from those involved rather than speculate!

And so as we prepare our hearts for christmas, let us prepare our mouths too!

May we bring all gossip to God for forgiveness and may we undo any damage that we have done to others by gossipping about them by being disciples of truth, mercy and peace!

Have a great day!

Michael