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Bible Reflections View Comments

Let the Word Come to Life in You!
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2013
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Translations of the Bible were often the first and most lasting volumes of literature in many languages. The first printing presses made the word of God more available to ordinary people at a time when only the very wealthy could commission a hand-illuminated copy of the text. I grew up with paperback Bibles and used study Bibles in school. Today, the Bible can be found on iPhones, BlackBerrys and other electronic devices.

We often take for granted our ability to read and study the Bible. But we become so accustomed to treating it as a book, a piece of literature, or something to study in a class that we lose sight of the fact that our Scriptures originated in an oral culture. The significance of this is not merely that it was a time before the written word was common. Rather, the living word of God proclaimed in the midst of a faith community is something that no amount of reading or Scripture study can replace. When we listen attentively, we hear messages we might otherwise miss.

In both the First Reading from Nehemiah and the passage from Luke’s Gospel today, we see how deeply affected our ancestors in faith were by the word of God. During the restoration after the Exile, the Book of the Law or Torah (the first five books in our Bible) was discovered and Ezra the priest read this text to the people, who wept as they listened.

Jesus unrolls the scroll of Isaiah to a passage that perfectly described his own ministry as the Word of God. He tells the people, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” He makes this proclamation fresh from his temptation in the desert, when he told Satan, “Not by bread alone does man live but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are fed by both the Bread of Life and the Word of God. The readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, the letters of Paul and the other early Christian leaders, and the four Gospels are selected to form us in faith day by day, week by week, year by year.

Recently, Pope Benedict in one of his regular addresses, exhorted all the faithful to pay close, prayerful attention to Gospel readings at Sunday Mass. One must be motivated by a desire to know and love God, “who comes to meet us through his word,” he said, adding, “God's word is there to be welcomed, meditated upon and practiced in everyday life.”

The Scriptures have the ability to affect us deeply. The word of God is always new to us. While the word itself remains constant, our hearing of it changes as our circumstances change and our understanding deepens.

Jesus proclaims his mission as one of release for captives and freedom for the oppressed. Being part of this mission can range from supporting an organization such as Amnesty International, participating in a local jail ministry program, or taking a nursing home resident out for a Sunday afternoon drive. It also might mean looking for ways in which you are being oppressed by a psychological or emotional burden and working and praying to find a way of being freed from that oppression.

Let yourself be inspired by today’s readings to renew your own acquaintance with the Scriptures. Let the word be fulfilled in your own life today.


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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog Heavenly Father, I am sure there are frequently tiny miracles where you protect us and are present to us although you always remain anonymous. Help me appreciate how carefully you watch over me and my loved ones all day long, and be sensitive enough to stay close to you. I ask this in Jesus's name. Amen.

 
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