Consecrated to the Heart of the Incarnate Word, I reflect upon the lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Advent (see link below) desiring to prepare the way of the Lord in my own heart…
Everyone knows that words have power – we can either encourage or discourage people by what we say. But, what is the power behind the voice of the universe? What is the power of the Divine Word?
In the Scripture passages chosen by the Catholic Church for the Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the psalmist proclaim that the ruthless are struck down “with the rod of his mouth” and the wicked are slayed “with the breath of his lips”. Lest these sayings make me think that God’s voice is harsh, destroying the ruthless and the wicked with His words, it’s good to remember what the true power of God’s Word is. For – “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4.) God’s words are life-giving. God’s Word is Life Itself. The biblical unfolding of Creation has God speak the whole universe into existence – “God said: Let there be light, and there was light.” God called everything forth into being through the divine Word “and found it very good.” (Genesis 1:3, 31.) In this way, God speaks every human being into existence. And every person who is fully alive, in true, divinely intended life, has his or her being in the Word of God – which is true life. When I strive to be who God created me to be, then I am neither ruthless nor wicked. I am not struck down, laid low or shriveled up on hearing God’s words. Instead, if I have true life within me, I am nourished and sustained by them.
Christ is the Word of God made flesh – “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.… And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:1-3, 14.) In preparing the way for the coming of Christ, we hear St. John the Baptist say of him, “He will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Sometimes, can make Christ sound punishing to me– unless I understand that he is the divine Word Incarnate. As such, he is the touchstone for true life. Held up to Christ, my heart is revealed. God does not destroy, but I can destroy myself by the life I choose to live. Am I the wheat that receives and gives life or am I just on the surface, like the chaff? If I delight myself in self-centeredness, then I have turned in on myself and away from God’s life-giving Word. I will wallow in the surface of things, living a selfish life that will only end in death – and thus bring about my own destruction. If, however, I have generously loved God and neighbor, seeking the light of goodness and truth, giving of myself to others, then I am nourished by God’s Word and sustained in life that, like love, never ends.
Christmas is coming soon, when we celebrate the birth of Christ into the world. May we “with one voice glorify… the God of encouragement”. In Christ, the fullness of divinity is pleased to dwell – all goodness, all wisdom, all strength, filled with the spirit of counsel and reverence. The Divine Incarnation is the greatest gift given to us, because God’s Word made flesh shows us how to be as God created us to be, how to live life fully – by loving and giving selflessly.
So I ask myself, How am I living my life? Have I prepared the way for the Word of God in my heart? Do I seek first the Kingdom? Do I let Christ show me the way?
Practical question: When was the last time I read from the Bible – that is, the word of God? It’s easy enough to be distracted today by the world with its shiny and brassy things. But, how can I ever hope to enter into the ways of selfless love, the ways of truly good things, if I don’t bother to know God’s Word? If I don’t like what Sacred Scripture tells me, if I feel myself shriveling as I listen or read – then am I as God created me to be? God hears my secret voice speaking. God knows what’s in my heart… Do I?
Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent:
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.