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'THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD'

By Jim Thompson



“This is the word of the Lord” is a familiar phrase. Each time the scriptures are proclaimed to us at our liturgical celebrations the reader ends with “This is the Word of the Lord.” The community

responds in unison, saying “Thanks be to God.”

Why are we grateful? We can all probably recall without much effort five terrible stories from the scriptures. For example, the poor man at the rich man’s table, the slaughter of the innocent babies

by Herod, the prayer asking God to smash against a rock the heads of the babies of our enemies (Ps 137), and stories of betrayal and denial by Judas and Peter. In the story of the Babylonian captivity

we read about the destruction of a civilisation and culture. We can also probably recall at least five beautiful stories. For example, The Good Samaritan, The Prodigal Son, and Peter, when he meets

the Roman centurion Cornelius, being reminded that God has no favourites. The story of the lilies of the field is another. All these stories are taken either from the three main sections of the

translated Hebrew Bible: The Law, the Prophets or the Writings (TaNaK), or from one of the twenty-seven books called The New Testament. So why are we grateful? Because all of these stories remind us either what it means to lack humanity, or what it means to be fully human. We are grateful because the stories challenge us to

live out our humanity to the full. This is God talking to us. This is the Word of the Lord inviting us to take care of each other and to take care of the small planet we call home. Today we don’t have to look very far to hear similar bad and good stories. The Word of the Lord is

all around us.

Pope Francis in Marseille this weekend reflected on the over 28,000 men, women and children who have lost their lives in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. He decried “the fanaticism of

indifference” to the plight of people making dangerous journeys from North Africa across the Mediterranean. Responding to the huge numbers of people arriving by boat on the island of

Lampedusa last week he said “Cruelty, a lack of humanity...a terrible lack of humanity.” He begged us to put the need for human fraternity and to place those in most need in first place.


The word of the Lord is revealed in all

his creation. This year’s Season of Creation extends from September 1 st to October 4 th . The community in Ballyvaloo extended an open invitation to an ecumenical celebration of the Season in their beautiful convent by the sea. We were inspired to appreciate the beauty of creation in all its manifestations, and we felt challenged to protect its integrity, and to share its

abundance. We came away with a renewed awareness of being part of a circle of ethics that includes all creation.

We can hear the Word of the Lord in both of these experiences. We give thanks for the ways in which they call us to become more fully human.

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