I'd like to say a few words about "words." Does this sound familiar?
"May I have a word with you?"
"Put in a good word for me."
"Mark my words!"
"And now a word from our sponsor."
Words gave birth to a new nation. "We hold these truths..."
Two words, "Siege Heil", led to the death of millions of people in World War II.
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 have declared wars and words have signaled peace.
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.
"It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!"
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.
amuse and anger
bless and course,
charm and repel,
heal and hurt,
unite and sever.
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 to old Abraham and Sarah, "You shall have a son." And it was done. The power of God's word, against all odds.
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."
Good example, backed up with beautiful words, make a powerful homily indeed. What kind of words?
"How can I help?"
"I believe in you."
"I forgive you."
"Keep up the good work."
"Tell me more."
"We can work this out."
"God bless you."
Do our words build community?
Do our words soothe and heal?
Do our words give support and encouragement?
Do our words always express the truth?
So I close with these few lines of verse:
You are writing a gospel,
a chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do,
and the words that you say.
People read what you write,
distorted or true;
So what is the gospel
according to you?
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do and the words that you say.
Men read what you write-distorted or true;
What is the gospel according to you?