Ordinary 3rd Sunday – WORD THAT IS SWORD


Neh. 8: 2-4, 5-6, 8-10                1Cor. 12: 12-30                        Lk. 1: 1-4, 4: 14-21



God’s word is powerful and by allowing it to work through our life, we can deepen our relationships.


Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was a Vietnamese bishop who was imprisoned by the Communist regime because of his Catholic faith. There were also many other Christians who had been imprisoned. The bishop gives a moving account of how the Christians in the prison managed to read and hear the word of God. The Catholics had secretly brought a copy of the Bible into the prison. Before the guards could discover their possession of the Bible, they tore the whole Bible into shorter sections and distributed among themselves. Each one possessed his piece with a lot of care, and spent much of his free time in memorizing it. When the guards came, they buried the piece of the Bible under sand floor. At night, they secretly gathered and recited the memorized verses in turns. That is the way how they reflected over the word of God and deepened their faith.

The Word that is Powerful

The Bible itself tells us that God’s word is powerful. The word of God is living and active (Heb. 4: 12); It is like burning fire and cannot be held back (Jer. 20: 9); It cannot be chained (2Tim. 2: 9); It always accomplishes its purpose without fail (Is. 55: 10, 11); Even if heaven and earth pass away, God’s word will never pass away (Lk. 21: 33); It enables and ennobles life (Gen 1st chapter); It hurts and instructs (the first reading).

In the first reading, we see the Israelites, mourning and crying over hearing the Torah, preached by Ezra. We do not know the exact reason why they cried. Probably they might have felt bad that they and their ancestors had abandoned the teachings of Torah and it was this abandonment that was responsible for their slavery under Babylonians and Persians.

Yahweh had chosen the Israelites to be His own and to be a race of different type – to be a race of love and amicability in contrast to other races which thrived on warfare and competition. It was with this purpose God gave them Torah. However the Israelites disregarded whatever God had given them and embraced their own destruction. Reading of the Torah by Ezra made them realize how they were far away from Yahweh, and this seems to be the reason for their mourning and crying. However Ezra made it clear that the primary purpose of the Torah is not so much to hurt people, but to instruct them so that through these instructions they could find joy of their lives.

The Word that is Fulfilled

Though it is true that God’s word is powerful enough to transform our lives, it is important that we allow it to work through our lives. In the gospel, we see Jesus saying, after reading the passage from the book of Isaiah, “In your hearing, the word if is fulfilled.” By this utterance, Jesus made it clear to the people, gathered in the synagogue at Nazareth, that he allowed God’s word to work through him and find its expression (‘fulfilled’.)

In general, the theme of fulfilment is closely associated with the life of Jesus. All the evangelists tell us that Jesus came to fulfil something or the other. Matthew points out that Jesus came to fulfil the laws and prophets. (“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil” – Mt. 5: 17); Mark tells us that Jesus came to fulfil time. (“The Time is fulfilled” – Mk. 1: 15); John points out that Jesus came to fulfil God’s Will. (“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” – Jn. 4: 34). Luke says that Jesus came to fulfil God’s word. Fulfilling God’s word means allowing it to find its maximum expression in us. Just as a well-cultivated land allows a seed to bring forth a plenty of ear corns, Jesus allowed God’s word to bear forth hundred percent result.

It is to be noted that Luke starts his gospel in this way: “Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us,” Luke sees the whole life of Jesus as the life of fulfilment – fulfilling God’s word.

The Word that Inter-connects

God’s word has got tremendous power to help us to be in touch with the Spirit in us. A person who regularly meditates over the word of God and tries to fulfil it in one’s life, begins to be in touch with his/her  deepest self, namely the Spirit. In other words, with the help of the Word, we can be in touch with the Spirit. It is to be noted that Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (Jn. 6: 63). With the help of God’s word, when we try to be in touch with the Spirit, we begin to experientially realize that the whole world is one body. It is by realizing the Spirit we become aware of our inter-connectedness with God and others. It is of this inter-connectedness St. Paul passionately speaks of in the second reading.

The science today speaks so much about the inter-connectedness of the universe. It tells us that the whole universe is a closely linked web and when one part is touched, it results in the change in the other parts too. For example, the American meteorologist Edward Lorenz  speaks of something called, ‘Butterfly Effect.’ He explains: “The wings of a butterfly could initiate a movement of air that gathers strength as it progresses and lead to a tornado in some other part of the world.”

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