There is a power in words and we have few orators today. We watch in alarm as the Speaker of the South African Parliament, gathered in Cape Town to listen to the President of the Republic, searches for words to respond to Mr Malema’s obstructive tactics. Another person could have disarmed him with a few words but the Speaker could not find those words.
Jesus was the perfect speaker. He is the Word and ‘no one could think of anything to say in reply, and from that day no one dared to ask him any further questions’ (Matt 22:46). Words are one of God’s great gifts to us. We use them all the time in daily life to express our needs, joys and pains. But words are not limited to immediate descriptions.
‘Primordial words are always as though filled with the soft music of infinity. No matter what it is they speak of, they always whisper something about everything. If one tries to pace out their boundary, one always becomes lost in the infinite. They are the children of God, who possess something of the luminous darkness of their Father.
Words like ‘blossom, night, star and day, root and source, wind and laughter, rose, blood and earth’ and so on are words in which a piece of reality is signified, a door is opened into the depths of true reality in general. ‘They are words of an endless crossing of borders, therefore words on which in some way our salvation depends’ (Karl Rahner). Through the word, spoken in powerful concentration, all realities are brought into the light of man, and redeemed from the imprisonment of their dumbness of reference to God’ (Michael Kirwan SJ, Letters and Notices 455, a Jesuit house journal).
The Sermon on the Mount is where Jesus ‘completes’ the message of the old dispensation. He raises the bar on human behaviour, calling humanity to choose wisdom. If we are still haunted by the self-interest and fears of the old ways it is time now to become free and reach out for the new. Humanity can do better. ‘If you wish, you can keep the commandments’, Ben Sira told his hearers a century or so before the coming of the Messiah. Jesus built on that and at the end of his sermon, Matthew tells us, ‘his teaching made a deep impression on the people because he taught them with authority’.
How much we need people who speak with authority!
16 February 2020 Sunday 6 A
Ben Sir 15:15-20 1 Cor. 2:6-10 Matt 5:17-37Post published in: Faith