July 14, 2012

Conclusion of Verbum Domini

What does the Holy Father want us to take away in the conclusion of Verbum Domini? Let's consider the phrases with which he ends:
  • God’s definitive word
  • New evangelization and a new hearing
  • The word and joy
  • Mater Verbi et Mater laetitiae (Mother of the Word and Mother of joy)
God’s definitive word

The Holy Father first encourages us again "to become increasingly familiar with the sacred Scriptures." He tells us that "all authentic and living Christian spirituality is based on the word of God proclaimed, accepted, celebrated and meditated upon in the Church."

If we're living authentic Christian spirituality, then we're basing it, somehow, on:
  • proclaiming the Word of God
  • accepting the Word of God
  • celebrating the Word of God
  • and meditating on the Word of God
Are we doing each of these in some way in each of our lives? Are we living a visible witness of the Gospel? Are we living according to Christ and the Scriptures? Are we attending Mass at least weekly to celebrate God's Word? Are we glad to have God's Word? Are we reading and meditating on Scripture each day, privately? Pope Benedict says a lot in a few words and leaves us with some examination to do.

New evangelization and a new hearing

Pope Benedict XVI, just as John Paul the Great had, calls us to a "new evangelization". This is not a mission into parts of the wold where Christ is not know but to where He has been forgotten or is ignored. This is a mission to "those nations where the Gospel has been forgotten or meets with indifference as a result of widespread secularism."

The word and joy

The Holy Spirit that calls us to evangelize also "continues to pour out his gifts upon the Church to guide us into all truth, to show us the meaning of the Scriptures and to make us credible heralds of the word of salvation before the world." The Holy Spirit does not call us and leave us alone; He empowers us.

The Holy Spirit gives us the grace, if we're open to it, to live the Word of God each day and to live it joyfully. The Holy Father makes a simple but profound point, that "(c)elebrations can be organized, but not joy."

We can occupy ourselves. We can entertain ourselves.  But we cannot create joy.  We can only receive it.

"(J)oy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22) who enables us to enter into the word and enables the divine word to enter into us and to bear fruit for eternal life."

Mater Verbi et Mater laetitiae
Our prime example of this is of Mother of God. Pope Benedict calls Mary, "Mother of joy".  She rejoiced in God (Luke 1:47), and through her "yes", she gave the joy of her Son to the world. What do we sing in celebration of His birth? Not "burden to the world" or "an hour of drudgery a week to the world" but "Joy to the World"!

In these four phrases, the Holy Father summarized some key ideas for "the Word of God in the life of the Church".  We must live a truly Christian spirituality. Much of the world has forgotten or marginalized Christ and needs that witness.  That witness will ultimately bring joy, which is more than mere happiness or entertainment, and Mary is our prime example of Christian joy.

May your life in the Word of God be more and more joy-filled and fruitful!

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