Word of God Sunday: not a text, but a living Spirit acting among us to bring Life & Justice
As we reflect on the WORD of God Sunday, today, there are a few elements to keep in mind:
1. The WORD is not a text – it is the person of Jesus Christ.
2. Every time the priest reads the Gospel, he invites us to an action and a response:
people say: “Glory to you O’Lord,” and we sign our forehead, our lips and our heart.
3. As we make the signs, we should whisper to ourselves:
“may the Lord be on my mind, on my lips and in my heart.”
In other words, we ask God to help us internalise the Gospel (the Good News), so that we may speak like Christ and act like Christ. However, to achieve that, we can’t just listen to the Word of God, we must understand it. And this takes some discipline and sacrifice of time.
Understanding cannot come as a solitary person, but correct understanding comes through our participation in the Community of the Church. From there, we go out into the world, thinking like God, speaking like Christ and having a compassionate heart like Christ.
In the First Reading where we hear that:
“from early morning till noon; all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.” It’s easy to dismiss these people being attentive all day as fanatics, or extremists.
But these were the people beginning a new life after many years in Exile (divided among themselves). These people had open hearts and were hungry for direction & Unity in life. Here the Book of the Law is emphasised, as a basis for life.
To understand the importance of the Law, we can think of a student learning to play the piano, or other instrument. First they learn the Law of the Piano: basic note combinations and “the scales”. Later, they build on the Law to create beautiful music from their heart.
How is your life? Is it full of pleasures but empty of meaning? Are you divided in family life? Are you looking for something deep and meaningful; or greater family unity?
‘A man sat on the road for more than thirty years begging for donations. One day as a man passed by: “Spare some change?” asked the beggar. The man replied “I have nothing to give you, but what is this thing you are sitting on?” The beggar said: “It’s an old box I’ve been sitting on for a long time.” So the man asked, “Have you tried opening it to see what’s inside?’
‘The beggar replied, “Of course not, there is nothing inside, it is empty.” The man insisted he look inside and, to his surprise, he discovered an abundance of money. The beggar had lived most of his life begging for donations, while he sat on a fortune.’
All of life’s treasures are within. When you search outside yourself, when you are begging life to give you things within your reach, you’ll never experience the fullness of life you deserve. When you let go of the idea of your limited worth you open up space for unlimited possibilities. https://iamfearlesssoul.com/the-beggar-and-the-treasure/
If you dig deep for that treasure in spirit (=happiness and living a life you are PROUD OF), then material treasure will also follow: speak positive more than negative; work more than complain; be strong in the hard times (perseverance).
But how do we know how to dig/ search within ourselves? By learning the Law of God and applying it in Community Life, like Christ did. The goal of the Book of the Law is revealed in the Gospel: the commitment of God (Christ) to give life, justice and freedom to all: “He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the down trodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”
Nehemiah was an important official in the Kings court while in exile. He used his influence to get the Persian King to help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He sacrificed his important and comfortable position so to use his political and practical skills to manage the rebuilding.
Nothing good will happen in life unless we are willing to make a sacrifice. We see that clearly in terms of material gains, but sometimes struggle to do the same for emotional gains.
For example, for a stronger, life-giving, relationship with our children or parents: we have to invest time every day, by doing meaningful things with them (play, listen, homework, etc.). If we want an exciting and beautiful relationship with our partner, we have to give time every day to create it: by speaking and doing “little” things for each other.
In this way we not only set others free, we set ourselves free from an empty life.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI