I have been so far behind in scribing that I did not know what message to share. I thank God for Pentecost and for those who have prayed that the Holy Spirit energize me in the task He has set before me to keep hearts aflame in His Word. It seems apt that this message talks about the place of the Word of God in the life of a Catholic. This was given at one of our Friday vigils and I would like to share it for those who were unable to attend.
The speaker started by defining what “Catholic” means. I have always been fascinated when our separated brethren would say that they believe in the Catholic Church but not in the ROMAN CATHOLIC church. Indeed, as an “A” Level history student in England, I was quite familiar with the syllabus which made us learn about the Reformation and how the Papacy was so corrupt in the politics of Rome and how King Henry VIII became the head of the Anglican church as a result of this. The syllabus in fact stopped at the establishment of Protestantism in Europe with Martin Luther and splinter groups. It was not only later on when I was to be confirmed a Catholic that I realized that there was actually a COUNTER REFORMATION movement by the Roman Catholic church which sanitized the Church and addressed most of the anomalies that caused the schism.
The speaker explained that Catholic meant universal and that the Catholic Church was One, Holy, Apostolic, Church of Pentecost. He stressed the oneness and universality of the Church and referred to the priestly prayer of Jesus in John 17:20 where Jesus prayed to the Father “May they all be one, as you Father are in me and I am in you. May they be one in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” He further explained that if we are one with the Church, heaven will move and the Kingdom of God will reside within us. Indeed, he concluded that the Church is our body, since Jesus Christ is the head of the church.
This oneness of the church drives me and inspires me to such an extent that I see myself as being an ardent advocate of the revival amongst churches and the push for ecumenism. InJohn 17:22, unity is again stressed when Jesus says that “I have given the the glory you have given me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. Thus they shall reach perfection in unity…” It is when we reflect upon the oneness and indivisibility of God the Father and God the Son that we begin to see how God the Spirit in the Word can take root in our lives as Catholics.
Since the Catholic Church is described as “Apostolate,” the speaker explained that this meant that the Church lives and exists to spread the good news. In short, he stressed that this is the ESSENCE of the Church and should be our essence as Christians. We all know the great commission of Jesus in Matthew 28:16-20 wherein He instructed us to make disciples from all nations. The image of the armor of God comes to mind here also in Ephesians 6:15 where we are told to take “zeal as your shoes to propogate the Gospel of peace.” Did you know that the shoes of a Roman soldier were often fitted with nails, or armed with spikes, to make the shoes’ hold firm in the ground? These shoes would allow the soldier to tread without fear, as the soldier was sure of his firm foundation. So should we be also, as we key into the apostolate nature of the Church and the command which Jesus gave us.
In describing “Pentecost,” he explained that many of us miss the baptism of the Holy Spirit and our rebirth. I have found myself correcting fellow Catholics when they refer to our separated brethren as Pentecostals. The Catholic Church is the church of Pentecost, as Pentecost Day is recognized as the birthday of the Catholic church with the amazing outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Word, upon its first Pope being Peter, the disciples and Mother Mary who were assembled in the Upper Room. He stressed that it is time for the Word to be given and taught RAW in order for us to have that Pentecost experience again as we are the first Pentecostals.
The speaker continued by giving the dictionary meaning of “word” by saying that it meant the smallest combination of sounds, images or gestures which makes meaning. He explained that science is the revelation of things we know and understand and that where sense ends, philosophy begins. However, where philosophy ends, God begins. He stressed that God is feared for His mystery and the things we cannot understand and that when we reach a brick wall, that is where the Red Sea departs. And how does the Red Sea depart? By the use of His Word. Alleluiah!
He then distinguished between its usage as a noun or verb in the dictionary. Since a noun can mean the name of a person, place or thing, he explained that there must be an IDENTITY to the Word and that it must be living and have a thing attached to it. As a verb, it must be able to DO SOMETHING and have an action attached to it. He then went further to say that a word is not complete until it has a sentence and that a word without a community is useless since the word must have a language in context. In short, it must relate to places, persons or things and not in the abstract. This completeness in the Word can be likened to when someone says “Let me have a word with you” and it ends up taking the whole night.
He mentioned that there are 2 types of Word which are as follows:
1. ORIGIN WORD: where everything draws power from the Word since it is the beginning and the end. This can be seen is John 1:1 where it is written that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” It can also be seen in the profession of a pagan in Matthew 8:8 where the captain professed “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just give an order and my boy will be healed.”
2. SUBJECTIVE WORD: where it is a destructive or creative force. We are all aware of the phrase “My word is my bond” and that is what the Word of God should be to us as well. It is God’s commitment, promise, His covenant which creates a relationship with His beloved people, His church. Number 23:19 reminds us that “God is not a man that He should lie.” The Word can also be destructive where it is a declaration as Proverbs 18:21 shows that the power of death can also be in the tongue. There are so many secular examples of speaking positively and not being negative that it often baffles me why Christians do not heed this, as it is clear that we bring spiritual death unto ourselves if we are unable to use the Word positively in our lives. May God help us to always speak words positively. Amen.
POWER OF THE WORD
John 1:1-5 was referred to,which stresses the power of the Word. Whenever I read these 5 verses, I get goose bumps still meditating upon this creative and protective power in the Word of God:
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God; He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without Him nothing came to be. Whatever has come to be, found life in Him, life, which for human beings, was also light, light that shines in darkness, light that darkness could not overcome.”
The speaker gave two examples of the power of the Word in the subjective sense involving its declaration to those around. Firstly in Luke 18:42 Jesus healed the blind man at Jericho by saying “Receive your sight, your faith has saved you.” In Mark 2:11, Jesus rejected the paralysis of the boy and instead pronounced over him, “Stand up, take up your mat and go home.” In both miracles, the speaker pointed out that the Word acted as a tool for evangelization, as those that were healed went on to proclaim God’s glory. He encouraged us to also use our words to evangelize for God.
I have often had disagreements with people over the power of the tongue and confessions. Indeed I used to be the greatest challenger of those who would respond “It is well” when things were obviously bad. I would simply call them being fake and in denial, as it was clear that they were delusional and escapees from reality. It was only until the Holy Spirit revealed to me the power of the Word and Romans 8:28 which states all things work out for the good of those who love God, so all is indeed well at all times, no matter how bleak the reality. Indeed, if we remember that it is in professing in the spiritual that we can alter the physical which seems to be the reality, then we can have a better understanding of the power of the Word especially in the context of where it is stated in Hebrews 4:12 that the “Word of God is living and effective, sharper the any two-edged sword…”
Since the Word of God is spirit and life, this life giving nature of the Word should ground us Catholics, and dissuade us from looking for miracles outside the Church. The speaker stressed that we should look for the Word and not miracles since miracles are the shadow of the Word for those who do not believe. Since, we are believers, he stated that when we live in the Word, each day becomes a miracle and we walk majestically in power. The Holy Spirit which is God’s Word keeps guard for us as it is always around those who seek Him, ready to do the Father’s will as seen in Genesis 1:3 where God said “Let there be light and there was light.”
As I reflected upon this message, it occurred to me that as a Catholic, I need to evoke the power of the Word and place it centrally in my heart and upon my lips. More so, if by virtue of the doctrine of consubstantiation, I believe that I partake in eating the real presence of God during Communion. John 1:14 says that “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” and then the Word made Flesh, Jesus, said in John 6:55 that “My flesh is really food and my blood is truly drink.” Surely, as a Catholic when I eat of Jesus, His Spirit becomes active in me like the two-edged sword and I become clothed in the power of the Trinity, and become again the true image and likeness of God. Alleluiah!!
I pray that as we PONDER upon God’s word daily, we INGEST IT by going to Communion and LIVE IT by keying into the miracles and power that are released, not only from the Eucharist but also from God’s revelation as we read His Word and His Spirit brings us to understanding. I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus who dwells with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen!