By marianmoran, Jan 3 2012 10:24PM
‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.’(Heb 4:12-13)
There is nothing more powerful to heal the mind, the heart or soul than hearing, reading, or speaking in contemplation the Word of God contained in scripture. When we hear the word it stirs us and communicates with our conscience on any of these levels, to address our personality and to bring about change and transformation towards a true conversion.
But just like any agency of change for our human habits and weaknesses we as human beings resist. The Word of God in scripture is no different, we resist the Word perhaps more than we realise. Yet it is imperative to our spiritual lives and therefore to our physical existence to overcome our resistance to the Word on any level. We resist anything that will change us and it is a natural and normal reaction. Human beings are by nature creatures of habit whether these habits are good, bad or indifferent. We do not like change because it suggests the unknown, the uncertainty and the fear which this arouses. When we change our ways, we bring to an end by a kind of death, a part of our self. We fear not being the person we were, we ask ourselves will others like me. What will they think of the new me? And many more questions besides, and from those questions we fill ourselves with assumptions about the answer, and those assumptions are usually suspect and faulty, and do not live up to reality testing. We are filled with uncertainty and doubts about our own self security.
In the old familiar self we know so well, we know what we are doing, how actions and relationships will be performed, and we also know the usual outcome. We know how people will accept us by these performances and results. Why? Because we follow engrained patterns of behaviour, that by adulthood are largely unconscious and not from awareness. So being certain of our patterns, whether we produce positive or negative results we feel secure, we have this self-knowledge that we rely on to survive in life and relationships. So change is resisted as a basic survival mechanism. But not all of our patterns are healthy or in keeping with the Gospel as we are called to imitate as baptised Christians, so that we may grow into true unity with God as he has planned and willed for us.
The Word of God like no other invites us to change, to transform ourselves into spiritually mature Christians through the growth of change. The Word of God educates us in our own self-knowledge so that we can come to know ourselves fully and measure our behaviour against the blueprints of perfection given to us by Christ. As humans, fallible and easily seduced we most likely will not attain this full perfection, but we have the opportunity and guidance to at least grow and perfect ourselves as far as we can. This is the path of holiness which we are all called to through baptism.
The most agreed upon comment is that none of us is perfect yet Christ commanded us to ‘be perfect therefore as your heavenly father is perfect’; (Matthew 5; 48) as he spoke his sermon on the mount and gave his blueprint for life, the beatitudes, instructing us about the behaviour which would be pleasing to God. Therefore our call to holiness which Christ initially called us to requires a change of heart and mind. Our most perfect model is Christ and his Word and as he said ‘I am the way, the truth (gospel) and the life’ and ‘no one can come to the Father except through me’(Jn 14:6-7). Jesus invites that we familiarise ourselves at a contemplative level with the Gospels. That we may apply the truths to ourselves and allow Christ’s light through the Holy Spirit to be the light shining in our darkness; and show us the truth about ourselves. Having done this, allowing him to indicate to us the way, found in his Word, by which we ought to change or transform our image to one of likeness with God; through the same Christ and the actions of the Holy Spirit.
The opening passage from Hebrews at the start, informs us of how the word changes and transforms, when it is truly through the integration of the Gospel and the consent to the Holy Spirit to action, the result is always for the better proving fruitful and positive. (Gal 5:22-26) Yes there are growing pains, and because we are human it is painful, it is hard to let go of old ways, and Christ knew this so he left us both his Word and the Eucharist to strengthen us in this journey. It is a life long journey to God with Christ being the source and summit. We as human personage are like diamonds with many facets, and indeed layers to those facets. But as we adopt the Word into our daily lives small miracles of healing take place, and after a while we can look back and see the transformations which have occurred.
We are never the same person we were yesterday, and we will not be the same tomorrow, this is a fact of life as life itself moulds and changes us, but if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives through both the Word of God and the Eucharist, we can be certain of one thing, that the moulding and shaping will be in accordance with God’s plan for each one of us. ‘I am the potter and you are the clay, you are the work of my hands’ (Is 64:8).
It is an illusion to fear change and transformation, for if we allow the Word to transform us with the Eucharist there is nothing to be afraid of, as it is written in the psalm (23:6) goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. He is the shepherd that leads us.
It is our human lack of trust in God which forms our fear and uncertainty. We can only trust when we get to know the other, then we build trust and relationship, it is no different with God. We have been given the legacy of the Word to come to know God. Christ said, ‘he who has known me has also known the Father’, (Jn 14; 7). We come to know Christ in his Word in the Scriptures; and when we come to know Christ we come to know the Father, when we know someone and realise their love for us we trust, it is our nature to.
Really getting to know Christ means contemplating his word, not just being acquainted with a few familiar passages, the word of God is alive and active, this means the Word, even as it is written is a living Word which as many people can testify gives different meanings at different times and is individual to each one of us as our situations demand. This is true, even when we re-read the same passage. We need to contemplate it and allow it to ruminate within us and apply it to our own lives.
The document on the constitutions of the Church endorsed in Vatican II on the divine revelation: the Word of God (Die Verbum) provides us with the teachings on the importance of the Word of God in the revelation of God’s plan for humanity, commonly referred to as the plan of salvation.
‘Do not be afraid’ is echoed throughout scripture both Old and New, concerning obeying God and later through his Son, Christ commands us also to do as he says. God is the all loving and merciful Father and he simply desires we return to him, to be one with him again, as the Son is one with the Father, this same desire was expressed by Christ (Jn 17:21-23) at the Last Supper. But we are afraid through doubt and uncertainty so it is with these words from Christ we take courage to make the changes we might need to make, and embrace the word of God as the only truth and reality of our baptismal and Conformational commitment; and, by which to live our lives in this world which seeks to increasingly separate us from God and his Kingdom. A kingdom we each are called to create in this earthly existence of ours as true adopted sons and daughters of God……
‘ But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ (Jn 14:26-27)
Concerning Our Lady and Mother’s instruction for the world in the apparitions recognised by the Church, particularly the famous secrets of Fatima, the instruction calls to conversion and penance and prayer.
In the Vatican’s publication of the secrets of the message of Fatima by the Council of the Doctrine of the faithful, we see in the extract of this document in the second paragraph below written by now our present pope, Benedict XVI. We are called to contemplate God- the word of her heart, we are reminded of the scriptural text in Luke2:19 ‘Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ As we consider her contemplation in the context of the events from the Annunciation to the shepherds visit at the Nativity. Mary constantly contemplated the Word and prayed the scriptures daily and we are constantly reminded the way to Christ is through Mary and imitation of her. She is our mediatrix and advocate and she is a benefactor of great grace to assist us in our journey. The Church through the years, has advocated that it is Mary who brings us to Christ, in particular in the writings of De Monfort and further endorsed by Blessed John Paul II.
We are also frequently reminded in the wedding feast of Cana the words of Mary ‘Do whatever he tells you’ (Jn 2:5) and the words of the Father in the transfiguration “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35)
“... the events to which the third part of the ‘secret' of Fatima refers now seem part of the past”. Insofar as individual events are described, they belong to the past. Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, just as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity. What remains was already evident when we began our reflections on the text of the “secret”: the exhortation to prayer as the path of “salvation for souls” and, likewise, the summons to penance and conversion.
I would like finally to mention another key expression of the “secret” which has become justly famous: “my Immaculate Heart will triumph”. What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Saviour into the world—because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually; he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: “In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.
Joseph Card. Ratzinger
Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith 2000