Wednesday, 6 August 2014

OH, EVERYONE SAYS SO! - From A Sermon By St John Vianney

Have you ever listened to someone speaking well of a young woman and recounting her good qualities? Someone else will certainly tell you that if this young woman has good qualities, she has plenty of bad ones, too.... She is frequenting the company of So-and-So, who does not have a good reputation.... I am very full sure they are not seeing each other for any good purpose.... And what about this other woman, who is always so well dressed and who keeps her children dressed up, too? .... She would do much better to pay her debts.... And then there is this other one: she always seems good and pleasant to everyone, but if you knew her as well as I do, you would have a different opinion.... She only puts on all these smiles as a blind.... Such and such a man is going to ask her to marry him, but if he asked my advice, I could tell him a few things he doesn't know....

"Who is that person going past?" asks someone else.

"Ah, well, if you don't know her, it's no great loss. I won't say any more about her. Keep out of her company -- it's a cause of scandal. Everyone thinks so.

Listen, the very worst people are ones like her who put up to be good and holy. Anyway, it's always the way that the people who want to pass for virtuous or pious are the most wicked and spiteful."

"She must have done you some grave harm. Has she?"

"Oh, no! But you know well that they are all the same. I happened to be with one of my oldest acquaintances one day, and I discovered that he was quite a heavy drinker and a real blackguard."

"Maybe he did something which angered you?" the other will say.

"Ah, no, he never said anything to me which shouldn't have been said, but everyone thinks that of him."

"If it weren't you who told me, I would never have believed"

"When he's with people who do not know him, he knows very well how to act the hypocrite in order to make people believe that he is a very decent fellow.

It's like one day I happened to be with So-and-So, whom you know very well --

he is another virtuous man. If he doesn't do anyone any harm, he doesn't deserve any credit for that. It is just that he is not in a position to do so. I assure you that I would not like to find myself alone with him."

"He did you some harm sometime perhaps?"

"He did not indeed, because I have never had anything to do with him."

"And how do you know, then, that he is so bad?"

"Oh, it's not hard to find that out. Everyone says he is. He is just like that one who was with you one day -- to hear him talk you would say that he is the most charitable man in the world and that he would never refuse anything to anyone who asked him for help. And all the time he would travel ten miles to gain two pennies. I assure you that nowadays you can't know people at all; you can't trust anyone. It is just the same with that fellow you were talking to just now. He looks after his affairs very well; he keeps up a good appearance always, and all his family look well turned out, too.... It's not so very difficult, really-he works at night, you know."

"Have you seen him taking anything, then?"

"Oh, no, I have never seen him taking anything. But I was told that one fine night he went back into his house well loaded with stuff. In any case, he has none too good a reputation."

And the speaker concludes: "I'm not saying that I have no faults myself, but I would be eternally sorry to be as worthless as some of these people."

In all of this you can see the notorious Pharisee, who fasts twice a week, who pays tithes of all he possesses, and who thanks God that he is not as the rest of men -- extortioners, unjust, adulterers! Here you can see this pride, this hatred, this jealousy!