In today’s Gospel guards were sent to arrest Jesus. They came back empty handed. "So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not bring him?’ The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this man." (John 7:46) They were spellbound by the word of Jesus. We are very blessed by the gift of faith to be able to hear these very words of Jesus in the Gospels. When the bystanders saw how Jesus cured the paralytic by a word they exclaimed: "What a word!" We also can be mesmerized by his voice in the Sacred Scriptures. God’s word does not just give information but effects what it says. "And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light." ( Genesis 1:3) When we see the sun rise we are experiencing a concrete realization of his word.
When we are at prayer the Sacred Scriptures should never be far from us. Things happen when we experience his voice. St Paul of the Cross, that great man of prayer, used to take his Bible out into the woods of Monte Argentario, and ponder for hours trying to perceive those riveting words of Christ! It is no surprise that Adam after his sin ran and hid from the voice (khol) of God in the garden. "Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account." (Hebrews 4:12)
Sin deafens us to the word. St. Augustine asks God to shatter his deafness. May God grant us his grace to hear his beautiful word that we might experience its hypnotic effect as it did to those guards in today’s Gospel so long ago!
Fr. Bob Weiss, C.P. preaches Parish Missions and is a member of the Passionist Community in Louisville, Kentucky.