The old children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was used as early as 1862 to refrain people from engaging in verbal bullying.
Words do hurt. When someone says an offensive word that hurts you at a very deep level, it can feel like someone is stabbing you with a sword. Words also heal. When someone offers an affirming or empathetic word, it can bring healing at the deepest level of your being.
In the world today, we know the power of speech. Words can inform or misinform. They can speak truths or lies. Words bring about action, directly or indirectly.
The universe was created with a word; Jesus healed and cast out demons with a word; rulers have risen and fallen by their words; Christians have worshiped through words of song, confession, and preaching. Even in our technological age, politics, education, business, and relationships center on words.
The power of word is on display in this weekend’s reading from Isaiah. God says: my word comes down like the rain and snow and will not return to me void.
Put another way, the word of God is sent with a mission. Every time we read and reflect on a Bible passage, we don’t simply read about a healing or forgiveness, but we are invited to encounter healing, forgiveness, compassion, and unconditional love. The Bible is the real presence of the Living Word. Every time we read a biblical passage, a new insight surfaces.
The Gospel story of the sower this weekend reflects on our receptiveness of the Living Word. The seed sown among thorns reflects an unwillingness to accept God’s Word as being meaningful today. Perhaps we fall out of the practice of reading scripture or are unwilling to give it authority over us.
The seed sown on rocky ground represents a tendency to only accept the Living Word that affirms/confirms our viewpoint. Cherry-picking verses that back our position without looking at the meaning of the whole passage.
The seed sown on the path is our hearing the Living Word without allowing it to call us to action in the world. We might even walk away from a passage saying, that is what so and so needs to hear. The seed sown on good soil speaks of those who allow God’s Word to penetrate their very being.
We trust that this Living Word comes with a particular mission: consolation, peace, strength, call to conversion, etc. Catholic Social teaching gives us the framework to engage the world with the Living Word of God.
During this time of Eucharistic Revival, we are challenged to respond generously to the breadth and depth of the Living Word God.
Do your words build up or bring down the Kingdom of God? How will you put flesh on God’s love this week!
Have a peace filled week! Fr. Ron