Visible Members of the Divine Vocabulary
The study of vocabulary expands our horizons of knowledge. God’s divine vocabulary helps us understand Him and abide by His Covenant. God also grants us the dignity of expanding His vocabulary with our gracious words.
In the poetic litany of creation in the first chapter of Genesis, creation enrobes God’s Word. God’s Word “takes flesh” in the creation of the heavens and the earth, the land and seas. God’s creative Word takes flesh in vegetation and the swarms of living creatures. Even living things have the dignity of multiplying the creative Word of God: “God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’”
In the grand finale of creation, by the power of His Word, God creates man—male and female—in His own image. “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.’” God’s creation continues, and His Word takes flesh with every human life—with the conception and birth of every baby.
After the Fall of Adam and Eve, God enshrines, directs, protects, and advances His Words with holy covenants. The covenant of the glorious rainbow is a sign of God’s non-aggression pact with the just man Noah. The Ten Commandments of the Old Covenant define the Chosen People as bearers of His revealed Word. The People of God express and multiply His creative Words by honoring His Covenant.
Jewish worship in the synagogues (including the holy ark of the scrolls) enshrines God’s Word and forms the Chosen People. His Words come to full expression in the obedient generosity of the Temple Sacrifice. But Jewish sacrificial fulfillment of God’s Word falls short; human generosity is but a shadow of God’s love. The Jews sensed the futility of their sacrificial worship because they knew all creation belongs to God (cf. Ps. 50):
If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
God gives meaning to His Word in the generosity of His Son. The Nicene Creed echoes the Gospel of St. John: “And by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and [He] became man.” God’s saving Word enters history “in the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4) to save us from our sins. “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)
The night before He died, Jesus established the new and everlasting Covenant that fulfills the Eucharistic discourse following the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and guarantees that the saving Word becomes Flesh for all time:
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever. (Jn. 6:55-58)
Every Mass is an Incarnation of the Word. (The homily helps explain the Word but is only a piece of the sacrificial drama.) The Sacrifice of Jesus re-presented in the Liturgy of the Eucharist fulfills the Liturgy of the Word. The Mass enshrines, directs, protects, and renews the new and everlasting Covenant. The Real Presence does not depend on our merits but on the Divine Office of the apostolic priesthood.
The Eucharist not only feeds our souls; His Word nourishes our bodies. His Word is made Flesh and becomes our flesh. And our flesh multiplies His Word in union with His Mystical Body, the Church. When we receive God’s Word made Flesh at Mass with devotion, we become a new creation.
Our virtues adorn and glorify the Word. St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Our vices distract from His glory.
Even death cannot separate us from the love of the Word. St. Paul again: “I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
Yet death cuts our lives short. We know not the day nor the hour. Does death extinguish the Word? Is our life as a multiplier of God’s Word in the flesh a cruel joke? No! St. Paul explains: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thes. 4:13-14)
St. Paul adds: “Lo! I tell you a mystery…we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. …When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?’” (1 Cor. 15:51-55)
In union with the glorified Body of Jesus in the Eucharist, but without losing our integrity, we become visible members of the divine vocabulary. God promises eternal life to His Words wrapped in humanity and sheds light on this promise: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Mt. 24:34)
Our thoughts, words, and deeds have eternal consequences. Make His Words our words.
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