“The sower sows the word” When I was stationed at our monastery in Sierra Madre, CA, I often took my daily walks in the beautiful Huntington Gardens close by our Retreat House. The Gardens have a museum there which contains a beautiful copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Because of its historical importance it is among the most valuable books in the world. Although no Gutenberg Bible has been auctioned in more than 35 years it has an estimated to be worth at around $35 million dollars. Some pages have been sold at $20,000 and $100,000 for a page! Seeing this valuable book, I have often thought, how precious is the Word of God!
The Word of God is worth far more to us than $35 million. The Word comes from the mind and heart of God and is spoken to our mind and heart. There is no closer union among rational beings. Any passionate desire for God is deeply concerned about the mind of Christ and desires to be a person after the Heart of the Lord! St Gregory the Great said it elegantly: ““To know the Heart of God through the Word of God” Heart to heart, ear to ear, from God’s lips to my heart.
After 52 years of constant preaching, I have been long convinced there is a powerful force in proclaiming the Word of God that we find in the Sacred Scriptures. “For the word of God is living and active sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit.” Hebrews 4:12 I love this text. His Word is alive (zaō) and full of energy (energēs).
I think our preaching is often on the dead side rather than being “alive”, on the weak side rather than full of energy. They said of Jesus that: “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” John 7:46 The listeners of Jesus were ”were amazed at His teaching” Mk 1:22 The word amazed in original Greek is ekplēssō (Hit) which means “to be exceedingly struck in mind, to be astonished”. Another word used in response to words and deeds of Jesus is existēmi which means to stand beside or outside of ourselves. Our word ecstasy comes from this word. No wonder people who heard Jesus said: “What a word!”
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.