THE WORD OF GOD
The Johannesburg Synod calls us to satisfy the ‘spiritual needs’ of our people. While this objective was addressed in many of the resolutions passed it was in the response of the youth that it was addresses most directly. They clearly encouraged us to strive to:
• Enter into a deeper “personal relationship with Christ”;
• Have a life-giving “encounter with Christ”.
Our youth echoed the words of John Paul II.
“It is especially necessary that listening to the Word of God should become a life-giving encounter.. (Starting afresh from Christ. 2002 (24))
I will use the logo of the Catholic Bible Foundation of South Africa as a parable to broaden our understanding of the “Word of God”
The four orange W’s and the four books represent the Word of God.
We experience the Word of God:
• When we meet Christ; “We spend time with Jesus as with a friend.”
• We meet Christ in the Eucharist; “It is primarily in the Eucharist that we celebrate the presence and action of God in our lives.”
• When we go to the Scriptures in prayerful reflection; “We need time each day for personal prayer and pondering the Word of God in the Scriptures.”
• When God speaks to us in the events of our lives. “In the ebb and flow of human interaction God truly speaks to us through others.”
The design is centred around a star, representing the cosmos; our God speaks to us through the wonders of creation. We find two scripture texts reflected here. “Those who instruct others to justice will shine like stars for all eternity.” Dan 12:3 “I am the light of the world”. Jn 8: 12
It is time now to let the scriptures speak to us. Remember that this should be a life-giving encounter with Jesus – the Word.
Take time to read this text several times, out loud. The scriptures were originally written to he heard. As you read be aware of the tone of used to express the ideas. This adds greatly to our understanding of the Word.
Mt 22: 34 – 40
34When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart , with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39The second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” The Law refers to the first five books of the Bible. We call then the Pentateuch, Jesus would have known them as the Law. The second part of the Hebrew scriptures was the books of the prophets.
Many think that Jesus introduced something quite new in this teaching. He is quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures in both instances. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deut 6: 5
There is no escaping that this is directed at each of us; “you” is repeated five times. Our God is not one for half measures; “all” is repeated three times. God asks us to love him with every fibre of our being.
“You shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” Lev 19: 18Again the importance of “you” is emphasised. This is a two way process. Neighbour and self can be interchanged, just as God and neighbour can be substituted. In Isaiah 61: 1 – 2 we are taught how to put these commandments into practice.
1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the afflicted, to heal the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners,
2To announce a year of favour from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn.
You will find Is 61: 1 – 2 used in Luke 4: 18 when Jesus describes his life work. Mt 7: 12 sums up the teaching of the Law and the Prophets.Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets.
RESPOND – PRAYER
Having spent time with Mt 22: 34 – 40, read it once more being aware of the many ways in which it touches you. Once you become aware of God’s touch remain with that thought. Enter into prayer using the words of Scripture. Lord, I long to be good news to others. Set me free from the things that imprison me that I, in my turn, will set others free.
Catholic Bible Foundation offers programmes in your parish to lead you as you grow in “Intimacy with Christ”. (011 435 7488) (031 3031919) (021 461 7647)