Summary: To prepare to witness to others, we should engage in the practice of lectio divina.
Thursday of 20th week in course 2015
Joy of the Gospel
The Book of Judges is not an easy read. The stories of the years between Joshua and the Israelite king Saul are full of blood and gore–mutilations, treachery, and repeated violation of the Law by the people He chose. Here we see Jephthah vowing to sacrifice the first thing that emerged from his home after victory. Let’s not be naive. He knew it would be a servant or family member, and it was his only daughter. One of the blunders humans made at that stage is remaking God into lower-case gods. Instead of man being in the image of the loving God, they remade gods in their own image–selfish, venal, obsessed with power and pleasure. So they imagined that bloody sacrifice would please those false gods, and even tried human sacrifice to appease their anger.
Of course, you can see similar actions even today, when in their lust for power, Islamic militants use rape and pillage and murder as instruments of self-aggrandizement. And Western politicians do nothing to help, for instance, the developing nations in Central America to build local schools and industries that will give opportunity for their people to rise from poverty. It’s like that all over the world, isn’t it?
This kind of mileau makes the preacher’s job hard. Sometimes we feel like the king in the Gospel, that we have to drag people scratching and fighting into the banquet of life, and provide them with a wedding garment to boot. The Holy Father tells us to witness our own faith so as to draw people to make the decision for Christ and love freely:
‘We are not asked to be flawless, but to keep growing and wanting to grow as we advance along the path of the Gospel; our arms must never grow slack. What is essential is that the preacher be certain that God loves him, that Jesus Christ has saved him and that his love always has the last word. Encountering such beauty, he will often feel that his life does not glorify God as it should, and he will sincerely desire to respond more fully to so great a love. Yet if he does not take time to hear God’s word with an open heart, if he does not allow it to touch his life, to challenge him, to impel him, and if he does not devote time to pray with that word, then he will indeed be a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow impostor. But by acknowledging his poverty and desiring to grow in his commitment, he will always be able to abandon himself to Christ, saying in the words of Peter: “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you” (Acts 3:6). The Lord wants to make use of us as living, free and creative beings who let his word enter their own hearts before then passing it on to others. Christ’s message must truly penetrate and possess the preacher, not just intellectually but in his entire being. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the word, “today, just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself