By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“HEAVEN and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lk 21,33)
With these words of Christ, we are told how we have to understand the word of God. It simply is not any ordinary word at all. It is the word of eternal life, the word that leads us to our own redemption. In short, God’s word is Christ himself, our ever living savior.
To be sure, God’s word is not just an idea, a doctrine, an ideology. It’s not just a strategy, a culture or a lifestyle. Of course, God’s word can involve all these, but unless we understand God’s word as Christ himself, the God who became man to reveal to us all that we need to know, all that we need to do to be God’s image and likeness as God wants us to be, we will miss the real essence and character of God’s word.
We have to realize that the word of God cannot be separated from God himself. That’s because God is so perfect as to be in absolute simplicity. As such, God has no parts, no aspects, no quality or property that are distinct from his very being. His word and his being are just one. There is no distinction at all in him.
Of course, from our point of view, we cannot help but to describe God according to our own terms and ways that cannot help but make distinctions between the essence of a being and its properties and qualities. But in himself, God does not have distinction between his essence and the properties that we attribute to him.
Of course, this is a mystery, a supernatural truth that our reason cannot fully fathom. That is why we need to have a strong faith to be able to accept this truth. And once we accept by faith the absolute unity between God and his word, then we will realize that reading and meditating on the gospel is actually having a living encounter with God through Christ.
That is why, St. Jerome, a father of the Church, once said that to read the Scripture is to converse with God—“If you pray, you speak with the Spouse. If you read, it is he who speaks to you,” he said.
Only when we realize that God’s word is Christ himself and that reading it is like having an encounter with Christ can God’s word truly be as the Letter to the Hebrews described it: “Alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4,12)
Let’s remember that the word of Christ is eternal. It defies time and space. It defies change and death. It is applicable to all human conditions. It is always relevant and useful. As St. Paul said:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete for every good work…” (2 Tim 3,16-17)
We should make it a daily practice to read and meditate on at least some words of Christ as recorded in the gospels, because they are the ones that would lead us to Christ himself and to the ideal condition we ought to have as we go through the different situations of our life.