The Word of God
1. After Holy Communion, the word of God is the most nourishing food of the soul. St. Augustine urges us to listen to the word of God with the same devotion with which we approach the Blessed Eucharist. It is the normal method God uses to communicate with our souls in order to instruct and enlighten them and to lead them along the path of virtue. It is true that God sometimes makes direct contact with us by means of good inspirations or extraordinary graces, but the ordinary way in which He calls us to eternal life is by His divine word, whether it is proclaimed by His ministers, read in Sacred Scripture, illustrated in the lives of the Saints or outlined by masters of the spiritual life. Most important of all is the living word of the lawful representatives of God. Jesus did not specifically command His Apostles to write, but to preach. “He who believes and is baptised,” He added, “shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned.” (Cf. Mark 16:16) Mary Magdalen was converted by the preaching of Jesus and wept for her sins. The sermons of St. John the Baptist called upon the Jewish people to do penance. Centuries earlier the prophet Nathan had converted David by means of the inspired word of God and the prophet Jonah had roused the Ninivites to repentance. We should treasure the word of God. We should read and listen to it with humility and devout attention. Whenever we hear a sermon or read Sacred Scripture or some spiritual book, we should reflect that it is God Himself Who is preaching to us. We should not be guided merely by a spirit of curiosity, desire for knowledge, or love of eloquence or literary style, but by the determination to apply such instruction to ourselves and to put it into practice.
2. In the parable of the sower, (Cf. Luke 8:5-15) Jesus tells us that the seed is the Word of God. Some seed falls by the wayside, that is, upon hardened and dissipated hearts which admit every kind of thought and affection except the love of God. The good seed cannot take root and the birds of the air come and eat it. Other seed falls upon rocky ground, but as soon as it has sprung up it withers away for want of moisture. Other seed falls among thorns, which choke it and prevent it from growing. Finally, some of the seed falls upon good ground and yields fruit a hundredfold. Let us read this parable and examine the way in which we hear the word of God. Are our hearts hard like the surface of the wayside, so that we are deaf and indifferent to the word of God? Or do we receive it with joy and enthusiasm at first, but lack the constancy to put it into practice, so that the seed dies for want of moisture and we forget everything which we promised? Or are our minds and hearts caught up in a tangle of earthly preoccupations—business, pleasure, and other interests—which choke the good seed and prevent it from yielding fruit? Let us make a thorough examination of our attitude. If we fall into any of these categories, let us remind ourselves that one day we shall have to render an account to God of all the gifts which we have received and the way in which we have used them.
3. The word of God should be for us a summons to turn completely from vice towards virtue. It should be the lamp which illuminates the darkness of our minds and helps us to see the ugliness of sin. It should revive our faith and set our hearts on fire with the love of God and the desire for Heaven. Every sermon which we hear and every prayer of Sacred Scripture which we read should incite us to further progress in the way of Christian perfection. This should be our main goal in life. If we try hard to reach it, we shall, by the grace of God, become the good ground in which the divine seed will bear abundant fruit for eternal life.
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