Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P.
I'd like to say a few words about "words." Does this sound familiar?
"May I have a word with you?"
Words gave birth to a new nation. "We hold these truths..."
As he left the Philippines, three words of General MacArthur, "I shall return", expressed his determination to win a war.
Four words by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I have a dream", awakened a nation's conscience about prejudice.
Words can inspire. As he set foot upon the moon, Neal Armstrong proclaimed, "One small step for man. One giant step for mankind."
Words have made slaves and words have freed slaves.
Words are important. But not just the words of famous people. The words of ordinary people are important.
Words on the front lawn can express joy and excitement.
Words on the front lawn can also express the end of an era. "For Sale".
Some words always spark our interest: "Once upon a time..."
And two very common words force us to a frequent decision: "Paper or plastic?"
Three words from your high school principal, "Here's your diploma!", can spark hope in the future.
Two words from your boss, "Your fired!", can bring fear of the future.
Two words from a friend, "I'm sorry", can heal an old hurt.
And one word from a jury, "Guilty", can change everything.
Three words, "I love you," transform both the speaker and the listener.
Words have power. Words change things.
While water is poured, the words are spoken, "I baptize you..." And someone becomes a child of God.
At this altar the words are spoken, "This is my body. This is my blood." And bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ
Before this altar, two words are spoken, "I do," and two persons become one in the sacrament of Marriage.
In the sacrament of Reconciliation, the words are spoken, "I absolve you from your sins..." And even a lifetime of guilt can be removed.
The bible assures us of the power of God's word. In the book of Genesis, we read, -- "And God said, 'Let there be light', and there was light. And God said, 'Let there be earth... and water... and sun and sky...and man and woman.'" God spoke, and it was done. The power of God's word to create.
God's word was spoken through Moses to the Pharaoh of Egypt. "Let my people go." And it was done. God's word sets people free.
Jesus spoke words of power. "Get up. Take up your matt. And walk." God's word heals.
Eight words on the cross summed up the event that saved the world. "Into your hands, Father, I commend my spirit."
In the gospel according to John we read,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made with him, and without Him was nothing that has been made."
God expresses himself in a Word that is a Person. Jesus is the self-revelation of God. And what does this special Word of God express? Jesus' life, death and resurrection proclaim God's solemn word, "I love you".
Now, as followers of Jesus, God sends us forth, scattering us about as a farmer scatters seeds all over the place. We are "words" of God. God says, "By your lives, proclaim who I am."
When I preach a homily, I use - words. But louder than words is the homily of example. St. Francis told his followers, "Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words."
Do our words build community?
So I close with these few lines of verse:
You are writing a gospel,
People read what you write,