Pope Francis’ homily a year ago on today’s gospel focused on Jesus’s thought provoking query: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

The Pope says: “Having just spoken about humility, Jesus speaks of its opposite: of that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbor when one becomes a ‘judge’ of his brother. Jesus used a strong word: ‘hypocrite.’ Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and courage to look to their own shortcomings….he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer…he who judges his brother walks in darkness.”

Pope Francis continued: “Every time we judge our brothers in our hearts–or worse still, speak ill of them, we are Christian murderers, and there is no place for nuances. If you speak ill of your brother, you kill your brother. Every time we do this, we are imitating that gesture of Cain, the first murderer.”

The Pope added, “Gossip always has a criminal side to it. There is no such thing as innocent gossip.” Quoting St. James, the Pope said the tongue is to be used to praise God, “but when we use our tongue to speak ill of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill the image of God in our brother [or sister]. Some may say there are persons who deserve being gossiped about. But it is not so.”

―George Penman Sullivan, Jr. is a Jesuit-educated lay leader who helped found Chicago’s Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Wilmette IL, and have four children and three grandchildren.