Stop and think about this for awhile. When was the last time that you were truly embarrassed? For me, it was the time that I said something which I shouldn’t have said. The person who had been the object of my criticicism had gotten wind of my comment long before I was able to confront the individual. But the harm had already been done. It was then that I began to realize the power of the word. I’m told that words are the extension of the person. A serious topic for serious reflection.
In the the first reading for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Isaiah 55:10-11), we are reminded of the power of the word. The prophet Isaiah makes it clear that AS the rain and the snow accomplish their task (fertility) when they come from the heavens to the earth, SO the word of God will accomplish what it is supposed to do.
We can see exanples of this in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). In the Genesis creation account we read, “And God SAID ‘Let there be….” And it was so. God speaks and creation takes place. An example of the power of the word.
The Hebrew equivalent of “word” is DABAR, which can mean either either “word” or “deed.” The book of Deuteronomy begins “These are the words (DEBARIM) that Moses spoke to all Israel…” (Deuteronomy 1:1) The words depict God’s saving history of Israel including the comments of God and the actions of the people. These words expressed the reality of what was an ongoing dialogue.
In the New Testament, John the Evangelist begins his Gospel, “In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God…) (John 1:1) John, of course, was speaking of Jesus. “And the WORD became flesh…” (John 1:14) Divinity became human in the person of Jesus. Another illustration of the power of the word.
What can we learn from this reading from Isaiah? First of all, it is important to note that words have power. This means especially that we have to be careful of what we say to and about others. Gossip is a trap into which we must not fall. Remember that words are extensions of people, so that people can know something about us by what we say. Indeed, the word does have power.
Secondly, prayer and Scripture are two good ways to keep the dialogue with God going. Keep in mind that prayers are always answered, even though it may not be the answer we want. The answers might be “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” The dialogue, however, continues as we try to figure out what our answer means.
Scripture has become a crucial liturgical experience. It demands the same kind of attention as does the Eucharist at Mass. Reading, hearing, and reflecting on the sacred Word enables us to enter into deeper dialogue with God, because in dialogue hearing and understanding are more important that speaking. What is important, above all, is to realize that words have power no matter how we use them.