Saturday, 3 September 2011

Gather up all the feathers

St Philip Neri

There is a wonderful story about St Philip Neri who had the opportunity to help a woman who was in the habit of gossiping about other people. Her gossip caused many people a great deal of suffering, because she would not hesitate to tell anyone who cared to listen, about the faults and the sins of other people.

St Philip gave the woman some money and asked her to go to the market to buy him a chicken that had been killed. He asked her to pluck the feathers from the chicken on her way back from the market so that it was clean by the time she returned to him. The woman was so pleased to be able to help him. She happily rushed off to do what she had been asked. She soon returned and, with a huge smile, proudly presented the cleanly plucked chicken to St Philip.
St Philip thanked her for the chicken. Now he asked her to go back along the same route that she had taken home. This time he asked that she pick up and collect all the feathers from the chicken that she had plucked. The woman quickly stopped smiling. “But that is impossible, Father! The wind has scattered the feathers in every direction”, she said.

St Philip then proceeded to rebuke her, saying: “Let this be a lesson to you, for it  is exactly the same with your wicked words of gossip. Just as the chicken feathers have been scattered by the wind in every direction, so your wicked words been scattered in every direction by all the other people, as they repeated your hurtful gossip!

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