Snappo was a snapping turtle who lived in a muddy pond. Baldy was an eagle who came down to the pond to catch fish. Snappo was sitting in the mud one day when his friend Baldy came down for lunch. He would not eat Snappo because his shell was too hard. Snappo said to Baldy, "Aren't you the lucky one to be able to fly wherever you wish! I have to stay here stuck in the mud. What is it like above the clouds?" Baldy felt sorry for his poor
friend Snappo and said, "If you really want to see what it is like above the clouds, I can take you up there. But on one condition. You must not say a word for the whole trip."
"I'll do anything you say," said Snappo, "because I want to see what it is like above the clouds."
Baldy went off and flew back with a branch from a tree from which he had plucked off all the leaves with his claws. He told Snappo, "You snap onto this with your strong jaws and I will hold the other end with my strong claws and carry you above the clouds." Snap went Snappo. Grab went Baldy. And off they went flying high in the air. It was wonderful. Snappo could look down on the pond with all the mud in it and all the other turtles watching him from the mud. Then he said, "What dopes they are, to stay in the mud." As soon as he opened his mouth to say this, he lost his grip on the stick and began to fall. Baldy was flying along with a stick with no turtle on the end of it. Snappo landed with a plop right in the middle of the mud. When he got his breath back, he looked up to where Baldy was flying and said, "I'd still be up there if I had kept my mouth shut."
St. James in this morning's Epistle gives us a warning. "If anyone thinking himself to be religious, not restraining his tongue but deceiving his own heart, that man's religion is vain."
The tongue can be the source of great evil. That is why God has placed two gates in front of it. A red gate and a white one. The lips and the teeth. Both of these gates have to be opened before the tongue can speak.
Think twice, then, before you open these gates and let any word of yours harm someone's good name. Think twice before you open the gates and let the tongue tell a falsehood. Think twice before you open the gates and let the tongue take the sacred Name of Jesus in vain. Why fall into the mud from above the clouds as Snappo did and have to say, as he did, "I'd still be up there if I had kept my mouth shut"?
- "Heirs to the Kingdom," Imprimatur 1949 -