Many years ago, during the time of the Protestant Reformation, there was a great saint living in Italy called Philip Neri. He was a wonderful priest and he helped many people to be good Catholics, during that time, when so many Catholics were losing their faith.I was going to try to incorporate this story into my homily this weekend, but doing so would make my homily rather lengthy.
One day a woman came to see St. Philip Neri. She was known for her wicked tongue and she used to gossip about other people, telling all the bad things they had done. This indeed was very wrong because when she talked to someone about the faults and sins of another person, that person would many times be looked upon as a bad person, by other people!
St. Philip gave the woman some money and asked her to go to the market and buy a chicken that had just been killed and to pluck all the feathers off, as she walked home with the chicken.
The woman was proud of the fact that St. Philip had asked her to do something for him. She went to the market, bought the chicken, and on her way home she picked off every single feather and made that chicken as clean as a whistle! Then with a smile she handed the chicken to St. Philip Neri.
He thanked the woman and then said, "Now go back once more, and gather up all the feathers of the chicken you just plucked!"
The poor woman didn't smile anymore. She said, "But that is impossible, Father! The wind has scattered the feathers in every direction!"
Then St. Philip scolded her, "Let this be a lesson to you, for it is exactly the same with your wicked words. Just as the chicken feathers have been scattered by the wind in every direction, so have your wicked words been scattered in every direction by other people, repeating your stories!"
06 November 2010
The chicken and the feathers
A parish priest in Scotland posted the following humorous and poignant story on Facebook: