by Rev. Fr. Tristan Jasper D. Laforteza
One day, St. Francis of Assisi invited a young monk to join him to town in order to preach something about God. Fortunately, the young brother immediately accepted the invitation.
Accordingly, the two brothers started to walk along different streets and alleys of the town the whole day. They encountered a countless number of people, meeting them by sight, but there was not even a single word about God have they uttered. Seriously disappointed, the young monk told Francis about his erring expectation that they were going to preach something about God before a crowd in the town. After a period of silence, Francis comforted him and said, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!” (Roy B. Zuck, 66)
Brothers and sisters, the challenge of St. Francis to proclaim the Word of God in words and actions also depicts the invitation of God for all of us this Sunday. In the First Reading, we would hear about Ezra, a teacher of the Law of Moses, who read the Law in an open area before the crowd. It is said, “Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand.” (Nehemiah 8:2) This describes the very characteristic of the Word of God in the Old Testament as something that people receive only through hearing. Consequently, people would easily forget what they heard and eventually fail to obey the commandments of God in their lives.
However, the coming of Jesus in the New Testament gave the Word of God a new feature.
Accordingly, the Word of God was no longer just to be heard but more so to be received through seeing. Such is what has been revealed in the Gospel Reading when Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth and read a passage from the prophet Isaiah. When Jesus ended, he said to the crowd, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21) Thus, Jesus was trying to make us understand that the all the prophecies and the Law had been made visual and fully embodied in his own person. Certainly, the Father made it part of His Divine Plan so that as people listen and hear the Word of God, they would also have somebody to follow to by looking clearly at Jesus’ examples.
As Christians, to proclaim the Word of God is to listen and apply it’s meaning in our day-to-day experiences. We are called to be consistent in expressing our faith in both words and deeds. Such is not simply the primary task or job of the Church leaders neither the religious sisters. Indeed, by virtue of the Sacrament of Baptism, we all come to share to the prophetic, priestly, and kingly missions of Jesus from which all of us received the vocation to be His disciples. This is what the Second Reading is trying to challenge us with.
St. Paul addressed the people in Corinth, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:27-28) Unfortunately, many of us tend to be inconsistent. We may be faithful in attending to our moments of prayer, in fulfilling Sunday obligation, and in doing functions as leaders of our respective parishes but we continue to live to an immoral and unholy way of life. This renders our beliefs no more than merely a pay lip service.
Finally, let me share with you the words of an author and together we ponder, “A Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks, a voice through which Christ speaks, a heart through which Christ loves, and a hand through which Christ helps.” (Roy B. Zuck, 67)