Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Transformative Power of the Living Word of God

One thing I must always remind myself before I prepare to read the word of God, is how much of a necessity it is to beseech the Holy Spirit for His help and light. I would like to share short story about an experience that I had early on in my conversion. When I was about 20 yrs. old, I started to come back into the Catholic Church and even went to daily mass when I could. Although I was now receiving Jesus in the Eucharist and even going to frequent confession, every time I went to open up the bible or when I would hear the word proclaimed at Mass, I had absolutely no idea what was going on. At this point I had still yet to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Needless to say, the next step I took was to get confirmed, to bring my Baptismal grace to completion along with bringing to full operation the Sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit. Almost instantaneously after I received my confirmation, the Word of God became absolutely alive to me. It became real, tangible and approachable. I can remember staying up half of the night more than a few times not being able to put down my bible and having no idea how many hours past or what time it was. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us in chap. 15:16 “When I found you words O Lord I devoured them, they became to me the joy and delight of my heart.” Now I could truly identify with this passage. What a treasure I had found, or rather, what a treasure that had been given to me by a loving Father, desiring to lead his prodigal son into His light and truth.

Now, if I could simply highlight a few things in regards to this experience and offer some brief reflections. To acknowledge that when we read the word of God, we must read it with a true hunger. We must seek the face of Christ, listen for the sound of His voice, and desire a real encounter with the living God whom we love through His word. Some things that I have found helpful to aid this are as follows: We should approach the Scriptures with faith, expectancy, & patience. We recognize that when we read the Scriptures using the approach through Lection Divina, we must set aside sufficient time and slow down! When we bring our time of the business of our lives and apostolates into our time of lectio, it could easily be difficult for one to have a fruitful encounter with the Word. We might need to take some prayer time before, to be able to have the proper disposition that is willing and ready to receive His living water. We must also recognize that we might not always feel like we received anything during our prayer time, but any time spent with God and the Scriptures is time well spent. Regardless of what we feel, Christ is always at work when we read His word with sincerity. It would also not be a surprise to me that in our driest time of reading the Word, is often the time in which it is bearing the most fruit for our souls and for the kingdom of God. We can read the scriptures time and time again, and not even in a thousand years would we exhaust what the Word of God offers us.

Faith: Throughout scripture we see the need for faith. We see in the gospels Christ healing many people. When we see Him heal, at times He heals with a word. Not just any word but He who is Himself the “Word of God” as we read in Rev. 19:13. God says in Gen. 1:3 ‘“Let there be light”, and there was light.”’ When He heals a leper He says “I will it, be clean”, and instantly he was made clean. He brings back to life the daughter of a centurion by the words “Rise”, and immediately, she arose and walked. He casts out a legion of demons by the simple word “Go”, and they fled. Isa. 55:11 says “Every word of God that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that for which I intend it, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” The thing that I would like to highlight is the fact we must read the word of God with expectancy and mountain moving faith. The belief that it can heal us, teach us, deliver us from evil, illuminate our minds and hearts, increase our faith, and give us perseverance for our life’s journey. We must come to believe and know, like the figures we read about in the gospels, that we too can experience this and become a living witness to the transformative power of Christ through his word. The most important thing of all to remember, is that God himself has a desire to speak to us, to me & you personally, to continue to transform and change our lives, to help us grow in faith, hope, and love, and to lead us into deeper union with His very self, and to share intimately in his very being.

Let us then pray for one another, that with, in, and through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, crying out to Abba Father, along with looking through the eyes of St. Francis and following in his footsteps, we many enter more profoundly into the word of God, with a new faith, a profound hope, a patient gaze and a listening contemplative stance that will continue be drawn by the voice of our Beloved, that is, into the Heart of Christ.

-Br. Roch Mary, CFR
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary
Newark, NJ
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