March 01, 2011

Our Response

Appropriately, after the section of Verbum Domini called The God Who Speaks, the Holy Father writes about Our Response to the God Who Speaks.

Looking back at the previous section, he tells us that "(b)y emphasizing the many forms of the word, we have been able to contemplate the number of ways in which God speaks to and encounters men and women, making himself known in dialogue." We communicate with each other in a variety of ways - looks and gestures, spoken words, recorded messages, books, letters, email. Why should we imagine God is more limited or less creative than those made in His image? (Hmm.. Could you imagine "a reading from the 156th tweet to the Romans"?)

God's communication with us, in all its forms, is a gift. We are not peers, and there is no reason the creator should communicate with His creatures. It is a sign of God's great love for us.

It is a sign of God's love. It is not because God wants to stifle or control us. God's word to us is not given with the intention to limit us. "The word of not inimical (harmful or hostile) to us; it does not stifle our authentic desires, but rather illuminates them, purifies them and brings them to fulfillment." If there is a contradiction between my desire and God's word, where do I look first for the problem? The realistic response - the one that recognizes my own fallibility and limits - is to look to myself for the source of contradiction. We all know this inherently. We find ourselves asking 'Why did I do that?' or 'What was I thinking?' Our culture and our own tendency to sin (concupiscence) lead us, time and again, to fool ourselves into thinking that if I want it - really, really want it - it must be good. It is very easy to fool ourselves, but "the divine word..discloses the sin that lurks in the human heart."

What do we do with that? What do we do once we've at least accepted our powers of self-delusion and our need for the guidance of God's word. Well, you don't get a traffic ticket for failing to read a street sign; you get one for failing to obey it. "The obedience of faith must be our response to the God who reveals."

And why obey it? Why care our our self-delusion about sin? Why listen to the word of God? God has given us Scripture "so that we may not only believe in but also possess eternal life." The Word of God is not something to just believe in but something to unite with. The Bible is not a text to memorize for the big test, it is the answer key.

Mary is a beautiful example of not only believing but living God's word. She exemplifies "obedient faith", not only believing what God said through His angel but letting it change her life entirely. "Her obedient faith shapes her life at every moment before God's plan." She demonstrates for us "an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life." We are called to this same obedient faith, to let God's word change our lives, to say "yes" as Mary did.

Pray today for the grace to give that unconditional "yes" to God. Ask Mary to show you how. Make an Act of Faith (The Catholic Spiritual Direction blog just posted Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love).

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