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Summary: Those who know God's word--like Mary--also know fully the significance of every creature.

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Monday of the 34th Week in Course

21 November 2011

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin

Verbum Domini

Those who know God’s word also know fully the significance of each creature. For if all things “hold together” in the one who is “before all things” (cf. Col 1:17), then those who build their lives on his word build in a truly sound and lasting way. The word of God makes us change our concept of realism: the realist is the one who recognizes in the word of God the foundation of all things.1. [31] This realism is particularly needed in our own time, when many things in which we trust for building our lives, things in which we are tempted to put our hopes, prove ephemeral. Possessions, pleasure and power show themselves sooner or later to be incapable of fulfilling the deepest yearnings of the human heart. In building our lives we need solid foundations which will endure when human certainties fail. Truly, since “for ever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” and the faithfulness of the Lord “endures to all generations” (Ps 119:89-90), whoever builds on this word builds the house of his life on rock (cf. Mt 7:24). May our heart be able to say to God each day: “You are my refuge and my shield; I hope in your word” (Ps 119:114), and, like Saint Peter, may we entrust ourselves in our daily actions to the Lord Jesus: “At your word I will let down the nets” (Lk 5:5).

Christology of the word

From this glimpse at all reality as the handiwork of the Blessed Trinity through the divine Word, we can understand the statement made by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews: “in many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (1:1-2). It is very beautiful to see how the entire Old Testament already appears to us as a history in which God communicates his word: indeed, “by his covenant with Abraham (cf. Gen 15:18) and, through Moses, with the race of Israel (cf. Ex 24:8), he gained a people for himself, and to them he revealed himself in words and deeds as the one, living and true God. It was his plan that Israel might learn by experience God’s ways with humanity and, by listening to the voice of God speaking to them through the prophets, might gradually understand his ways more fully and more clearly, and make them more widely known among the nations (cf. Ps 21:28-29; 95:1-3; Is 2:1-4; Jer 3:17)”.[32]

This “condescension” of God is accomplished surpassingly in the incarnation of the Word. The eternal Word, expressed in creation and communicated in salvation history, in Christ became a man, “born of woman” (Gal 4:4). Here the word finds expression not primarily in discourse, concepts or rules. Here we are set before the very person of Jesus. His unique and singular history is the definitive word which God speaks to humanity. We can see, then, why “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction”.[33] The constant renewal of this encounter and this awareness fills the hearts of believers with amazement at God’s initiative, which human beings, with our own reason and imagination, could never have dreamt of. We are speaking of an unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: “the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14a). These words are no figure of speech; they point to a lived experience! Saint John, an eyewitness, tells us so: “We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14b). The apostolic faith testifies that the eternal Word became one of us. The divine Word is truly expressed in human words. Our post-Christian culture celebrates all the wrong things. We listen sheepishly as TV commentators laud professional athletes whose primary characteristic is greed, and whose off the field antics land them in jail. Actors of modest ability make millions, as long as they also raise enough Cain to get on the cover of the Enquirer every week. But Jesus–and we his disciples–do the opposite. Here he raises up as an exemplar of life an anonymous widow who gave everything she had to support orthodoxy–right praise–at her Temple. Even Nebuchadnezzar got it right in the first reading, recognizing true wisdom and prudence when he sees it in the four youngsters from Jerusalem. But we mustn’t forget that not long afterwards, he had them thrown into a fiery furnace, where they sang the psalm we prayed between our readings.


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