Matthew 4: 18-22
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.”
Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
We are called to reverence the Word of God by reading it with great care and attention. Sometimes great spiritual fruit can be brought from even a point of grammar. On today’s feast of St. Andrew the apostle, the Church offers us a first reading in which St. Paul speaks of the mission of an apostle to bring the Gospel to the world. He says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
But how do we come to this faith that saves us? The role of the apostle is to spread the good news of faith in Jesus Christ: “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”
But what is this word of Christ? Is it Christ’s word, that is, the same teaching that Jesus made while he was with the apostles: the Beatitudes, the Great Commandment, the Our Father, the parables? Or is Christ the word that is preached, so that Jesus himself is the content of this good news: that Jesus Christ is God’s own Son who died and rose from the dead that we might have life? From the point of view of grammar, even in the original language, it could be either. The ambiguity can’t be completely resolved, and in that ambiguity lies great richness, for it could just as well be both.
We are saved by the teaching of Christ, by his word, but Christ himself is the Word made flesh. What distinguishes Jesus Christ from every other teacher who teaches the truth is that he is himself the truth that he taught. His teaching was about himself as the way to salvation: “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and “he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” The apostles have handed on to us (in the apostolic succession that is the Church’s great treasure) the “word of Christ”: not only his teaching, but much more, Christ himself. As we prepare our souls for the coming of Christ during this season of Advent, let us seek to hear and be transformed by that word of Christ in all the richness of its meaning.
—Fr. Matthew Monnig, S.J.
Lord, every day you whisper your call to us. Heighten our awareness to recognize your presence in the seemingly ordinary encounters of the day. In the chill of the approaching winter, let us be touched by the beauty of the stars and the moon and the falling snow. Let the Advent season be our time to really embrace the greatest gift– God with us. Let this reality truly inspire and direct our relationships, our decisions, our greatest concerns, and the many common moments of our day.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!