OCTOBER 5, 2007: BARUCH 1:15-22; LUKE 10:13-16
HE WHO HEARS YOU HEARS ME. HE WHO REJECTS ME REJECTS HIM WHO SENT ME. To hear Jesus is to welcome with faith the words he speaks in the sense he imparts to them. This form of reception is possible only for those who are disposed interiorly by the values and concerns that our Lord cherishes. Words are the media by means of which we hear the Lord Jesus himself speak to us. All words are plastic in that they are fashioned not only by their content but also by the mind and soul into which they enter. They take on the color and flavor of the container into which they are poured, as it were. As we take words within we color them with the shades and tints of our desires and hopes. What we actually perceive in speech directed to us is a composite of what the speaker imparts and of the form they assume as we take them in.
Repeatedly our Lord indicated that he had a lively awareness that the message framed in words spoken are not always the same as the message that is heard; hearing is not passive reception of a word; it is an active response and accordingly, gives color and taste to what is taken in. AA child of God listens to the words of God. If you refuse to listen, it is because you are not God=s children (John 8:47).@ In speaking to his critics, the Lord bluntly stated: AWhy do you not understand my way of speaking? You are simply unable to hear, you are from your father the devil and desire to act our the desires of your father@(John 8:44)
In another context Jesus stated that Awhat I have spoken does not come from myself . . .what I had to speak was commanded by the Father who sent me (John 12:49).@ AThe words I speak to you are spirit and life (John :63).@ In view of this doctrine it is not surprising that St. Thomas Aquinas writes that :One who does not nourish himself on the word of God is no longer living (Catena Aurea in Mt 4:4). Hans Urs von Balthasar, considered that this basic feature of Jesus= teaching applies to the whole of Scripture, although with a singular force and grace to Christ. In fact, it is his express opinion that the Word of God is incarnate in the inspired words of Scripture. He reflects the conviction and practice of the eminent Fathers of the Church when he notes that Athe word of Scripture is above any other word concerning God; in virtue of its Christological form it is a word opening into God and leading into him.@ Consequently, the word of Scripture is imbued with such art under the influence of the Holy Spirit, that they possess a unique feature in that Athe single truth it conveys does not rule out any other truth ... it never bolts any door but opens all locks (Word and Revelation, 28).@
What this principle means in practice is precisely what our Lord implies in the words of today=s Gospel: HE WHO HEARS YOU HEARS ME. HE WHO REJECTS ME REJECTS HIM WHO SENT ME. The words of his apostles are invested with the same authority that the Lord=s teaching carries by virtue of his delegation. They continue to address us today, as they have every generation since he sent them forth. They remain a source of new life that is eternal. Through his words we come to know him in person for he lives in them still; they are more than thoughts giving information about him and the Father; they are truly spirit and life As St Peter stated it clearly: ALord, to whom should we go? You have the words of everlasting life (John :67).@ To take in his words is to come to know his person; to hear him with the ears of the heart is already to enter upon the new life, for he who speaks them to us today is the risen one, imparting the life of God the Father to those who put their trust in him. This is the gift of God that we receive in the words of the Gospel and celebrate at this altar in the Eucharist.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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