BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa


HOMILY: Humbert of Romans, a 13th Century Dominican said, “Some Wines are weak and have no effect on you, but the word of God is strong wine … and gets you drunk.” We feel the effect of this strong wine when a word or passage of scripture strikes us and we begin to live under the influence. The word of God produces great effects in people’s lives. For example, many years ago this strong wine influenced notable saints such as Augustine. Augustine was a renowned and successful Rhetoric Professor who lived a carefree life until one day when he was sitting alone in the garden and he heard a little voice speaking to his heart repeatedly, “Pick up and read.” On this day he picked up the scripture and his eyes fell on the Letter to the Romans and there he read these words, “Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14). These words marked a new beginning in his life and these transformative words changed him for the better.

The book of Nehemiah in the scriptures tells an inspiring story of the encounter between Ezra and the people of Israel. The people had come back from exile in Babylon and they were in a period of reconstruction and restoration. Their lives were shattered and they were deeply hungry and thirsty for the living word. Ezra, the priest stood on a wooden pulpit, opened the word of God in the sight of the people and read it to the assembly. All the men and women listened to him attentively and wept when they heard the words of the law. These words touched them so deeply and made them to cry. Psalm 19:7 perfectly describe the word of God as spirit and life.).

When Jesus came into the world, he was very clear about his mission, which was to proclaim the word of God. He went to into the synagogue and he was invited to proclaim the word of God. He quoted a passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah. He declared: “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Those who listened to him were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth (Luke 4:22).

It is wonderful to see how people respond to the word of God and this is because the word of God is not just ordinary word but word that is spirit and life. The prophet Isaiah says the Word of God is food and drink that fully satisfy (Isaiah 55:1-11); the Apostle Paul asserts that the Word of God is the wisdom that leads to salvation (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5). In the book of Hebrews we read: “The word of God is something alive and active (Hebrews 4:12 – 16) and Ephesians 6:17 describes the word as “The Sword of the Spirit.”

If the word is spiritual food and drink, then we require it daily for survival, just as we consume physical food. This explains why Joshua says, “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8). The word of God is useful to us in many ways. When I am lost and in the dark, it becomes “A lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). The Apostle James compares the word of God to a mirror in which we are able to look at ourselves and make the necessary adjustments (James 1:22). According to the Apostle Paul “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). More still, the word of God teaches us about the beauty of diversity and the need to rise above the tyranny of dissension and destructive divisions and take advantage of our diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-30).

The word of God has powerful effect on those who read and listen to it. The prophet Jeremiah says it produces joy and happiness (15:16) and it is a consuming fire and a pounding hammer (23:29). Jesus encourages his disciples to be in constant touch with his word, “If you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

You can begin each day by reading a passage of Scripture. There are many publications and Internet sources that provide daily readings from the scriptures that we can read and be nourished. Attending daily Masses or services afford us the opportunity of listening to the word.

Third Sunday of the Year C; Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 14-21

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