Sunday of the Word of God
The Wonders of the Word of God.
Isaiah 8:23-9:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17, Matthew 4:12-23
The Holy Roman Pontiff sets aside this Sunday for the enthronement of the Word of God. Our reflection today in connection with the readings of today will centre on this.
The Word of God has been totally neglected and sometimes seems to be disregarded by many. Many Christians today do not value the word of God, many find it hard even to read, reflect and live out the word.
The Pope’s emphasis on this celebration is to bring back our awareness about the nature, importance and wonders of the Word of God.
To fully understand the theology of the Word of God, we need to have recourse to the beautiful prologue of the Gospel of John chapter 1.
The first chapter of John’s gospel begins with the nature of the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” is an indication that John was referring to the Word as God and a Person.
In verse 14, John tells us that “the word became flesh and now dwelt among us”. A statement to affirm that Jesus is the Word made flesh. God now speaks to us through His son.
This ascertains the personality and divine nature of the Word of God, through whom everything comes into being. This is a word not from any human being, not from the devil etc but the Word of God.
The word “of” denotes possession and ownership. When we hear it, it is not the person speaking, the word we hear belongs to God. Hence, if the word is of God, we have to understand that the Word of God is powerful and life-changing. The wonders of the word of God are beyond our imagination.
The Word is a Light.
The first reading of today from Isaiah 8:23-9:3 corroborates the second premise in the first chapter of John’s gospel.
In the second premise of the first chapter of Saint John, Saint John says that nothing came into being except through Him and what came into being was life, the life that was the light of all men, the light that shines in the darkness in which no darkness can overcome (John 1:5), then in verse 9, John says that the Word was the real light, that gives light to everyone (John 1:9).
Let us connect this with the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading of today.
1. The prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading is historically set in the second half of the eighth century B.C. It was the era of the great Assyrian expansion in the Middle East.
The tribes of Zebulon and Naphtali, situated in northern Israel, were also involved in these military-political upheavals.
At that time, devastation, violence, deportation, and imposition of heavy taxes were the consequences of the invasion of armies coming from Mesopotamia. This dramatic situation is presented by Isaiah as a humiliation, permitted by the Lord.
In the region of Galilee, it was as if the chaos that reigned before the creation when “darkness covered the abyss” (Gen 1:2) had returned.
The fertile lands beyond the Jordan seemed shrouded in the darkness of a night without end. At that time, death reigned unchallenged almost everywhere. The people became depressed and almost lost all hope entirely.
2. At this time of general predicament, the voice of the prophet announces the dawn of a new day. The prophet Isaiah says:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. On those who live in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned”.
3. Therefore, in the gospel when Jesus left Nazareth after hearing about the death of John the Baptist and went to live in Capernaum, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, Matthew re-echoed what happened in the first reading and then sees this movement of Jesus to Zebulun and Naphtali as the fulfilment of the prophecy by Isaiah.
Therefore, Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Remember that John says that this Word made flesh is the light that shines in the darkness in which no darkness can overcome (John 1:5), then in verse 9, John says that the Word was the real light, that gives light to everyone (John 1:9).
So, the movement of Jesus to Zebulun and Naphtali means that light has come to visit them and enlighten their hearts.
4. Therefore, like Naphtali and Zebulun, only the word of God can enlighten the darkness in our world today.
Just like the situation in the first reading, The Word of God is a light for those in distress, a light for the abandoned and depressed, and guide for those in the darkness of sin.
The psalmist says in Psalms 119:105, “your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for the path. We need the word of God to find solace, guidance and hope during challenges. We need the word of God to ward off the darkness in our hearts. This is part of the wonders of the Word of God.
We Need the Word.
When Jesus sojourned to Zebulun, a land that was in total darkness, the first thing that Jesus did was to preach to them, then on the way, he began to call people to himself.
Then He goes around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.
Therefore, what this means is that in the darkness of our hearts, in our sinful states, and our weaknesses, we need Jesus to sojourn in our hearts. We need Jesus to come into our lives.
First of all, what he needs from us is a change which comes through obedience to his word. He will then heal our wounds and weakness as He did in Galilee. The Word of God is life-changing.
We are also Heralds of the Good News.
We also are heralds of the gospel.
In the gospel, Jesus is never weary of preaching the Word. He was also able to call people to himself through His words and actions.
In Matthew 16, Jesus tells His apostles to go to the whole world and do the same, that is proclaim the good news. This is the responsibility of every Christian.
This, in essence, means that our vocation is to win souls for Jesus Christ just like Jesus was doing today and the only way we can do that is to value the word and consequently be the gospel we preach.
2. In the second reading, Paul emphasizes that he was called to preach the gospel. Paul made a lot of converts and won many souls for God. This is the mission for all. Let us not be ashamed of the gospel nor grew weary of the good news.
I invite all to allow the Word of God to dwell in us richly using the words of the Letter to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colosians 3:16) In responding to the Word of God, Mary is our model, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).
1. In preaching the word of God, Jesus was not only satisfied with the people around him. He was not just satisfied with the people who gathered to listen to him. Jesus was always on the move. He continues to gather more people to Himself, touching lives and converting souls without tiring.
Jesus shows that deepest desire to bring more flock to Himself, moving to the deepest part of the neighbourhood.
Secondly, He does not opt for the comforts of only some familiar faces or satisfied with the people who are interested to come to Him.
Rather, Jesus embraces God’s call to find those who though do not want to hear the word of God but need the word of God. Some people need the word of God, let us bring the word of God to them.
Hence, Jesus teaches us to do the same. He teaches us not to be tired of touching lives but to seek more souls and go beyond our reach and expectation to bring souls to God.
We do not only face those little groups of people who come to us every week, rather we should find avenues to seek more. God wants some more.
2. The gospel of today also recounts how Jesus calls some of his disciples to the vocation to become fishers of men. And the way to do this is to spread the Good News.
The disciples of Jesus did not fulfil this task by folding their hands and waiting for God to come down from heaven and do it for them.
The disciples of Jesus did not enter the room because of the persecution and hatred at that time. Rather, in the midst of these, they continue to spread the message of the gospel.
In the same way, we cannot be fishers of men when we are afraid to come out or when we fold our hands doing nothing. By spreading the message of the gospel, these disciples touched and converted a lot of souls.
The only way to fulfil our mission of touching lives is by spreading the gospel, spreading love, peace, unity, etc and preaching the message of repentance and fighting evil.
3. The word of God is full of wonders. Speaking about the wonders of the word of God, Paul says “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans. 1:16).
The problem is that we do not have time to read and digest the word of God. Sometimes, we relegate it to the background and see it as nothing.
The Bible says that the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrew. 4:12).
When you preach the word, you will never understand the number of souls that you can touch and bring back to God. It is our function to work, but only God grants the increase.
4. Many people find it very boring to read the bible. Sometimes, we find it very easy and better to spend time reading novels than the Bible. The problem is that we are yet to understand the power and wonders of the word of God.
The Bible is the only book that contains every aspect of human life that can help and equip man. The Bible contains great instructions that can equip us spiritually, morally, socially, financially and psychologically.
It is a great book of comfort in times of challenges and difficulties. I submit to you that the Bible is the most interesting book you have ever picked up. The wonders of the word of God are beyond what an eye can see.
5. Speaking about the wonders of the word of God, Isaiah says “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will never return to me empty but must accomplish whatever I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:10-11).
This shows the irresistible supernatural power contained in God’s word. Whenever it is spoken, it will not return to Him empty.
Therefore, let us not be afraid to speak the Word of God. It is very powerful that it will always accomplish its desires and purposes.
The wonders of the word of God are so because God guarantees that His Word is always effective. God says in the book of Jeremiah 23:28-29 “Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully… “Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
So, let us always Think of the Word of God as a hammer. In the same way, a hammer will always drive home nails, the word of God will always bring positive effects.
May God help us to obey and do His word. May He never forsake you. Amen