"The Spirit of the LORD is Upon Me"

01-23-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

In verse 63 of the sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel, Jesus told His disciples “the words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life.” This assertion forms the basis of the response to the Psalm at the Liturgy today and provides the theme that runs across the Readings. This response: “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and Life” strongly suggests the primacy of place the Word of God ought to occupy in the life of every Christian. The Word of God is Spirit and Life because it empowers, animates, influences and radically transforms any person who sincerely immerses themselves in it.

Old Testament Israelites were not oblivious of this fact. This is why Scripture had a primordial place in their lives. The first reading offers us a practical demonstration of Israelite reverence and awe for God’s Word. They had just returned from exile where they desired, without fulfillment, to have the Word of God read to them on their land and in accordance with Jewish liturgical rites. Ezra, the priest, read the Word of God from the Torah. He read it from an elevated platform for six hours and as he opened the Book of the Law, all the people rose in respect. After reading, Ezra gave thanks, the assembly answered “amen, amen,” then prostrated themselves face down before the Lord. So great was their joy at hearing God’s Word on their homeland, and so awed were they of the life communicating wisdom of the Torah, that they wept.

In the Gospel, Jesus identified the liberating proclamation of God’s Word as the basis of His messianic mission. He told the assembly at the synagogue at Nazareth that God’s Spirit had been given to Him to announce the Good News to the poor, freeing captives and the oppressed in the process. Friends, we need to critically re-examine our perception of, and relationship with, the Word of God. Do we have and read our Bibles? How much respect do we have for God’s Word? How long and deep are we prepared to study and reflect on God’s Word? What is the level of attention we pay to the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word? Have we allowed the Word of God to permeate the innermost recesses of our lives and so free us from the shackles of sin, ignorance and vice?

Let us ask the Lord Jesus to fulfill His messianic mission in our lives and restore in us a holy yearning for God’s Word. May God’s Word always be the guiding lamp for our feet leading us to a perfect relationship with our Creator and may God’s Word liberate all people from doubt and despair.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh