By: Rev Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

Readings: Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Luke 11-4, 4:14-21

Theme: The Living Word

Points for Reflection

1. Both the 1st reading and the gospel describes the attention the Jews paid to the reading of scriptures. The 1st reading says “the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law” and the gospel tells us that after reading from the scroll of the book of the Prophet Isaiah “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him (Jesus)” to listen to what he would say. Today, we ask ourselves how much attention we pay to the reading of the Word of God especially during Mass. Sadly, many Christians today find various means of distracting themselves while the Word of God is preached. This is wrong.

2. In both the 1st reading and the gospel, the Word was read to all present. Nehemiah 8:3 specifically says men, women and all who were old enough to understand. This implies that children were also in that congregation. The Catholic church says 7 years is the age of reason, by which time, all things being equal, a child should be able to tell good from evil. These days, at age 7 or even earlier, a lot of children are already able to read and comprehend to a certain degree. Parents, how much of the Word of God do you expose your children to? How many simple Bible verses do you teach your children to memorize and practice? Where there is children Mass, do you allow your children to join other kids where the scripture will be broken to their level of understanding? Remember Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

3. The Word of God is a force of unity. Galatians 3:28 says in Christ Jesus, there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or freeborn, no man or woman, for all are one in Christ. This is God’s word, and it exhorts us to pull down all walls of division. This is also the point of today’s 2nd reading in which Paul tells us that like the parts of the body, each one of us is important, hence, we cannot stay divided. The Word of God has not changed, and even now, it still urges us to put away all reasons for division, discrimination and segregation.

4. The reading of the Word of God causes reactions in the hearers, for it is alive and active (Heb 4:12). When Ezra and the scribes read and preached the word, the people cried; when Jesus read and preached the word, the people took offense and almost killed him. It is not different even today. Sometimes when a message from scripture is preached, people cry, at other times, they clap, at other times, they laugh, while still at other times, they sit still in sober reflection. Every time God’s word is read and preached, it must stir something in us, it must provoke an emotion. We ought to listen to that emotion, because God speaks to us through it, and God points us to a certain kind of action to take in life. That is why Psalm 119:105 describes God’s word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. This means therefore, that we must always try to listen to what God is saying to our hearts whenever we read from scripture or hear it preached. Never be among those who close their hearts to the word of God because of the instrument God is using to share that word. IT IS GOD’S WORD, NOT THE PREACHER’S WORD.

5. Dedicate a portion of your day to the study of God’s Word. The Jews listened to Ezra and the scribes from sunrise to midday. Today, a few minutes studying the Word of God seem to some people like eternity. We spend time on a lot of other things, but time with God seem like a burden. That is a misplacement of priority. There is great gain, great blessings from studying scripture and practicing it (Psalm 1:1-3). Just as the human body requires daily food to escape malnourishment, so does the soul require daily doses of the Word of God to stay spiritually healthy. Feed it daily.

May the Word of God be for us a guide throughout this week and beyond.