Last week we were invited to be a light, learning to listen, to recognize and encounter Jesus, and we were invited to let the Holy Spirit guide our words and our actions. Last week we began our preparations for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
This week we are celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God. Pope Francis instituted this Feast with the idea that we would celebrate, reflect and share more generously the Word of God. The Pope wants us to pay more attention to God’s Word.
According to Cardinal Sarah who is in charge of how we celebrate the sacraments, this feast is a means to help people, “reawaken an awareness of the importance of Sacred Scripture for our lives as believers, beginning with its resonance in the liturgy which places us in living and permanent dialogue with God.”
Every time we celebrate the liturgy we read from God’s word. We have a history of focusing on the Body and Blood of Jesus, we tend to focus less on the Word of God. The second Vatican Council invited the Church to change that. We are slow to follow through with this invitation but the establishment of this feast tries to move us in the direction of honoring the Word of God.
Today, it is the word of the Lord that is guiding Jonah in his journey. This is a great story and many of us are familiar with the story. Today it is good for us to focus on the details. Jonah hears the Word of the Lord and responds but he does so reluctantly. His proclamation of God’s Word touches the people and they change their way of being. God is moved by the response of his people and chooses not to punish them.
In Mark’s gospel, we hear that John is arrested and that Jesus starts telling people that the Kingdom of God is near; it is time to repent and believe the Good News. Mark tells us that Jesus begins to gather disciples, calling people to follow him. And they do; they follow him when he calls.
St. Paul tells the Corinthians that it is urgent for them to make changes in their lives. He tells them that their lives are short. It is time to act, to change their behavior. He reminds them that this world as we know it is temporary.
There is a belief that when we graduate from grade 12, we become adults and we can do what we want. It is true, when we turn 18 we can do many things that we could not do before our 18th birthday. It is true, when we turn 18 our lives are changed. We are free to do more things and with that freedom comes responsibility.
As baptized Christians, we are called upon, from our earliest moments, to pay attention to God and to God’s Word. We are called upon to seek God with our whole being. We are called upon to do what God asks of us.
One of the most common verbs in the bible is LOVE! According to scripture scholars the word love is used in the NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION about 500 times. 500 times we are encouraged to love one another.
We find many reasons not to love one another but God’s Word encourages us to ‘love one another’. This is what God does, this is what Jesus calls us to and this is what Paul asks of us.
St. Paul, in Chapter 13 of his first letter to the Christian community at Corinth tells us what love looks like. Most of us know this text off by heart. Many of us spend our time telling one another “DON’T DO THIS OR THAT.” Sacred Scripture, God’s Word tells us to DO – TO LOVE!
Jonah resents God’s interference in his life – he does not love! Jesus appreciates his Father’s presence in his life and he sets about doing what he has been sent to do!
St Paul reminds his people that life is short. What are you going to do with yours?
The feast of God’s Word invites us to love! What will you do with your life? Whether you are 8, 18 or 80, this is a choice that you can make!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI