The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Ex 17:8-13 + 2 Tim 3:14—14:2 + Lk 18:1-8
October 16, 2016
“…proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient….”
In our Second Reading, Saint Paul describes how God’s Word speaks to us through the words of the Bible. But the “Word of God” is not limited to the Bible. We listen to the Word of God in the Bible in order to receive an even greater gift: the Word of God made Flesh. Opening our selves to this greater gift is one of the most basic “moves” of the Christian life.
It is not a coincidence that Holy Mass follows the pattern that it does. The two main parts of the Mass—called the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist—are not interchangeable. The Mass would not make sense if we celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist first, and then the Liturgy of the Word. This is so because the Word is proclaimed first as a preparation, in order to lead us as pilgrims and disciples towards the Word made Flesh.
We can see this if we overlay the outline of the Mass upon the outline of salvation history. Consider what we might call the “first half” of salvation history: the time of the Old Testament. During this long period of time, “God spoke” his Word “in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets” [Hebrews 1:1]. But in the “second half” of salvation history—the time of Christ and His Body, the Church—“God spoke to us”, and speaks to us today, “through [His] Son” [Hebrews 1:2], the Word made flesh, who proclaimed to His followers: “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my Body, which will be given up for you.”
Catholics are at times accused of being ignorant of the Scriptures, and unfortunately there are times when this criticism is justified. To that extent, we must dispel our ignorance, because the words of Saint Jerome are just as true today as when he wrote them: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
But if our devotion to Scripture does not lead us to a deeper devotion to the Eucharist, we miss the entire point of God becoming human: of the divine Word becoming flesh and blood. After all, what did God the Son say on this earth that God the Father could not have said from the heavens? Couldn’t God the Father have spoken the Beatitudes from Heaven, rather than Jesus speaking them during the Sermon on the Mount? Couldn’t God the Father have taught His People from Heaven how to pray to Him, rather than Jesus teaching us the “Our Father”? What words had to be spoken by one who is both fully divine and fully human? “Take this, all of you, and eat it. This is my Body, which will be given up for you.”