Monday, October 11, 2010

The Word of God…

Jesus is the Word of God, who came down from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, and became a human person. This happened in a specific place at a specific time. But each day when we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus comes down from heaven, takes bread and wine, and by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes our food and drink. Indeed, through the Eucharist, God’s incarnation continues to happen at any time and at any place.

Sometimes we might think: “I wish I had been there with Jesus and his apostles long ago!” But Jesus is closer to us now than he was to his own friends. Today he is our daily bread! …

When we gather around the Eucharistic table and eat from the same bread and drink from the same cup, saying, “This is the Body and Blood of Christ,” we become the living Christ, here and now.

Our faith in Jesus is not our belief that Jesus, the Son of God, lived long ago, performed great miracles, presented wise teachings, died for us on the cross, and rose from the grave. It first of all means that we fully accept the truth that Jesus lives within us and fulfils his divine ministry in and through us. This spiritual knowledge of the Christ living in us is what allows us to affirm fully the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection as historic events. It is the Christ in us who reveals to us the Christ in history.

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

I think perhaps we might want to add that since Jesus is indeed the Word of God, he is with us too in that Word, by his Holy Spirit. I sometimes think that we Christians, both the ones who take the Eucharist very seriously, and even the ones who take the Word very seriously, miss out on this sacramental aspect of God’s word. It is “living and active” in all truth, just as the writer to the Hebrews describes it (4:12), “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When we take up the Bible in faith, prayerfully asking for the presence and help of the Spirit, we are taking Jesus by the hand. More than that, we are taking him, through his word, into our heart—at least as much as in the Eucharist we take him as our daily bread. No wonder St. Francis was prone to picking up stray scraps of paper from the Scriptures that he found discarded, and carrying them reverently to a place of safety!

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