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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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