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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Tuesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time, 30 August 2022, Lk 4:31-37

St Luke tells us that after Jesus expelled an evil spirit from a possessed man, the people were amazed and they said to one another, “What is there about his WORD?”

Today we reflect on the power of the WORD—both in the negative sense and in the positive sense. Our Gospel today teaches us to be more careful with the way we use our words. Why, because on the one hand, words have the power to hurt, to disturb, disorient, and even destroy people. But on the other hand, they can also have the power to heal, to console, to give hope, to bring peace, to reconcile, to reorient, and to rebuild.

Much of our education and formation has to do with the way we use words. We are taught to know when to say which words, as well as how to say them effectively. We are taught to know how to use the right words at the right time. We are made to learn to use words prudently and responsibly.

In school we are often reminded by teachers not just to parrot words. Obviously we are not parrots and we know that parrots don’t pronounce words. They just emit sounds that might resemble human words; but these sounds do not mean anything to them. They are merely conditioned to repeat these sounds because they enjoy the reward that they get when they do so.

Spoken words are not just about the sounds that we make by using our vocal chords. Some people may have disabilities like hearing- and speech-impairments (deaf-mutes) but are necessarily prevented from using words. If they cannot speak with their tongues, they can still write or use sign language or make gestures in order to communicate. We use words to make sense, to get ourselves understood in many ways.

Human words actually begin with thoughts and feelings about things. They verbalize our wishes, desires, dreams and aspirations. It is not enough that we express them; we can also put them into action or bring them into fruition. And so we know that there are words that are meaningless, like boastful promises that remain as empty promises, or like malicious gossips, lies, rumors and intrigues. We distinguish them from words that encourage, inspire, motivate, or drive us into action.

There are words that inform and those that misinform, words that form and perform or even words that transform. Our gospel acclamation today is quoted from Lk 7:16, where, after hearing Jesus, the people exclaim, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst; God has visited his people.”

When people hear words so that they feel that it is God who has spoken to them, they say to themselve that they have been visited by a prophet. The letter to the Hebrews opens with a verse that says, “In times past, God spoke in manifold ways through his prophets. But in these recent times, he spoke to us through a son…” I think John meant the same thing in his prologue when he says, “And the Word was made flesh.” Not only did God speak through prophets. In Jesus, we have God’s Word in person, the word made flesh.

He continues to take flesh in us his community of disciples. This is what happens when by the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to take part in the life and mission of Christ, the word incarnate. Today, I invite you to pray that in His name, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may also be endowed with the authority to speak words that liberate those who are under the spell of the evil one.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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