Isn't it ironic that whenever Jesus seems to chastise someone in the Gospels we have the tendency to say, "YEAH! That's so obvious! They should know better than that!" When in reality we need to say, "Whoa--that's me that he is chastising." An example comes in this weekends reading about the crowd bring the adulteress to Jesus.
If you remember, Jesus is sitting there preaching and teaching and doing the things that the Son of God does best when the people bring a lady who had been caught in the act of adultery. They tell Jesus (as if he needed to be told) that in the law, Moses told them that they should stone the woman. And they ask him--in order to test him--what should they do with the woman. Jesus bends down and writes something on the ground. They press him when he doesn't answer and Jesus simply says, "Let him without sin cast the first stone." Jesus then continues to draw on the ground. And what do you know, everyone leaves. Jesus looks up and it's only the woman standing there. He asks, "What? No one's left?" The woman shakes her head and says "no one." Jesus tells her that he will not condemn her either. He forgives her of her sins and tells her to go and sin no more.
Now, we read this and we think, "Yeah Jesus! You tell them! Let him without sin cast the first stone! What a bunch of pious jerks!" (Okay, that's what I think, anyway) Isn't it ironic, that we know it's not right to bring someone else's sins to Jesus but yet we do that nearly every day when we gossip. And heck, we aren't even bringing it to the attention of Jesus, we are bringing it to the attention of co-workers, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. And we act so pious about it, as if we are doing a service by bringing these sins to the light of day for the world to see. (not the same as when we give fraternal correction and bring the light of ones sins to the sinner to see by the way) But isn't that the same thing that the people in the gospel reading did? We may not be bringing someone forward for a physical stoning but they sure are getting a emotional and spiritual stoning every time we gossip. And sometimes the emotional injuries sustained last for years.
Why do we love to gossip though? Why do we always look forward to the juicy stuff? It's simple if you think about it. It's pride-the root of all sin. We feel better about ourselves when we are putting others down. We feel better when someone else's shortcomings are out there for the world to know about instead of our own. It's easier to talk about the neighbor's wife sleeping around or talk about how someone is dressed or--wait, did you hear about the stupid thing Sally did yesterday than it is for us to look inside and realize all of the sins that I've committed today.
How do we combat this? What is the virtue that combats pride? It's humility. When someone comes to you with some juicy gossip realize that we've sinned as much as the other guy and if we haven't that's it's only by the grace of God. Think about how we would feel if we had our lives opened up like a book for the world to see. I know I don't want everyone to see my failings and shortcomings so what makes me better than that guy. One way to work on our humility is by doing a regular examination of conscience and bringing our own sins to light and taking them to Jesus. What a gift reconciliation is because we can be like the adulteress (hopefully without the adultery) and take our sins to Jesus (though the priest) and hear those words that we aren't condemned and that our sins are forgiven.
As an aside--I wonder what Jesus was drawing in the dirt. I bet it was a unicorn!