|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words. Words. Words.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 14, 2016
In our modern world, we have so many words! We have words that come in volumes of books in libraries and bookstores; newsstands are full of magazines and newspapers for every particular type of interest imagined. The Internet is growing exponentially every year and the words keep flowing. Words just keep coming at us.
In an abundance of so many words, there seems to be a scarcity of meaning in the words. There is a danger that with so many words, we have lost the true art of communication. In ancient times, words were much more scarce. There were not many people who knew how to read. They believed that words gave life to whatever it is was spoken.
In today scripture readings the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us that those who listen to God’s words and do what God commands are like a tree planted beside a river, that even in a year of drought, still remains green. Its roots go deep down into the soil. Then Jesus, in today’s gospel in the sermon on the plain, provides words of blessing to those who were poor and words of warning to those who were rich!
The question we have to ask ourselves is: What words do we use? What is the general genre of our narrative of words from one week to the next? Consider for a moment, if we were to write down in a single paragraph, every word we communicate this last week to our spouse? What would be the general trend of that communication say? What words do we use?
What would the paragraph look like to our children? What would the paragraph look like to our parents? What is the general theme of all the words that we use —go back and look at them and ask, “Am I giving blessings or am I giving a curse?” “Am I inspiring and encouraging with my words or am I discouraging and uninspiring with the words we choose?” Words do have an impact.
We are called to root ourselves according to the scripture today, to root ourselves in God’s words. If we root ourselves in God’s word then the source of our faith will be that of goodness, it will be that of inspiring or encouraging words, words of forgiveness or kindness. Otherwise our words might be words of discouragement, arrogance, pride, unforgiveness; words that do not bring us closer to God.
The challenge that the Lord sets before us is that we become people of the word of God, rich in wisdom, forgiveness and mercy; that we choose to use those words to inspire others and to lead others to Christ, most especially our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends and most of all to that stranger who we will meet on the street; our words do make a difference. They need to be rooted in the word of God.