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The word of God

July 13, 2017
Father Charles Puthota

Some years ago it was reported in The New York Times that some Wall Street executives attended Bible study groups: “The meeting... begins with a prayer: ‘Lord, help us apply the truths in your words to our business lives.’ … A passage from Scripture is then read and prayerfully discussed.” Speaking about the importance of these meetings, one executive said, “If I couldn’t come here, I don’t know what I would do!”

There is a deep hunger for spirituality everywhere. St. Mother Teresa said: “The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty – it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” One may be most successful in one’s area of work, one might have everything one desires, but there is still a void deep within that nothing in this world can fill. More people are taking notice of the inner cry for faith and truth. Some companies host “Higher Power Lunches” instead of the usual “power lunches” to provide spiritual connections. Prayer, meditation, yoga, study groups and book clubs are promoted to help people find nourishment for the soul. 

All this is a good sign that we are able to see that God continues to speak in the world of today. In his influential book “Hearers of the Word,” German Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner affirms that human beings are by their very nature oriented toward God’s self-revelation. He was convinced that we cannot escape the question that there is something about us that makes it not only possible but also necessary to ask about God and to hear God’s word in history.

In other words, there is in us an intrinsic pull toward God and a propensity to hear God’s word. St. Augustine’s words that our hearts are made for God and they are restless until they rest in God drive home the same truth. God draws us to himself, reveals himself, and shares his love. His words are life-giving if we choose to open our hearts and minds to him. He keeps sowing his seeds in our lives so they can grow to become plants and yield flowers and fruits. The word of God this Sunday is about the word of God.

Jesus speaks of the seed, “the word of the kingdom,” being sown in our lives. Depending on how we receive it, it can bear fruit or not. If we receive it without understanding it, the word finds no welcoming place in our lives. If our hearts are stony, God’s word cannot take root. If we are assailed by undue anxieties and attachments, God’s word may be choked. But if we are the fertile soil, able to hear the word and understand it, the seed will take deep root and bear abundant fruit. The seed and the soil together can bring about astonishing harvests. God’s word and our hearts can together generate results unimaginable for personal fulfillment and the good of humanity.

The inevitability of this abundant harvest is affirmed by Isaiah in the first reading. God’s word is like the rain and snow from the heavens that “do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful …” The versatility of God’s word is evident when the seed fell on such saints as Paul, Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Ignatius of Loyola, Therese of Lisieux, Patrick, Maximilian Kolbe and Mother Teresa. God’s word brought about the will of God in these and countless other saints.

Ultimately and supremely, God’s word is Jesus himself, the word who became flesh. Listening to this word of God is the only way to the Father. Through our sadness and sinfulness, Jesus speaks God’s unconditional and absolute love. Letting this word take root in our lives is peace, joy, and fulfillment for us now and for eternity. 

Puthota_Fr. Charles, new- web 100x125Father Puthota is pastor of St. Veronica Parish, South San Francisco, and director of pastoral ministry for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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