Do you know me?

I do not have any respect for justice. I injure badly without killing. I break hearts, destroy friendships, sow anger and reap hatred. I am cunning and malicious and unlike others, I get stronger with age. The more I am repeated and quoted, the more that I am believed. I distort reality, subvert the truth, ignore the facts, resist correction. I enjoy the suffering of others, and spread confusion. I flourish at every level of society, and can easily be found among rich or poor, ignorant or educated.
My victims are helpless and too numerous to be counted. They cannot protect themselves against me, and they never know who I am--I do not have a face or name. To track me down is almost impossible, because the harder you try, the more elusive I become.
I am nobody's friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never quite the same. The nobler the person, the more persistent is my attack. I embellish the truth as well as the lie. I have wrecked marriages and toppled governments. I have ruined careers and undermined noble causes. I cause sleepless nights, heartaches, and untold grief. Because of me, innocents cry. I make headlines, and respect no one.
I am called gossip
The next time you are about to repeat a story about someone, remember this--Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss other people. The next time you are about to make someone the object of your discussion, it is important that you ask yourself these questions: Is what I am about to say, true? How do I know that it is true? Is it necessary for me to repeat my story? Will I achieve some positve good by doing so? Finally, is what I am about to say, kind? If it is not, why am I repeating it? What is my true motive in doing so?
If it is untrue, or unnecessary or unkind, please, please, don't say it!
Fr. Andrew Demotses is Pastor Emeritus of St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church in Peabody, MA.  Fr. Andrew's sermons and sermonettes have been a regular feature of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for decades.