Monday, August 24, 2015

Christ, the Power and Wisdom of God

For today’s feast of the Apostle Saint Bartholomew, the Carthusians at the hour of Matins listened to some words of wisdom by the Cistercian, Baldwin of Forde. He was the archdeacon of Exeter, and in the year 1169 entered the abbey of Forde and six years later became the abbot. After serving as abbot for six years, he became the bishop of Worcester, and then in 1184 he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. Here’s an excerpt from Matins.
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The Word of God is living and effectual and more piercing than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Behold, how great the power and wisdom contained in the Word of God! The text is highly significant for those seeking Christ, Who is precisely the Word, the Power and Wisdom of God. This Word, from the beginning, is co-eternal with the Father, and in His time was revealed to the Apostles and through them was announced and accepted with humble faith by the people. Wonderful condescension, Christ, God's Word, God in the Heart of the Father, descends to the heart of man, to be formed and to train, according to a New Way. The Apostle to the Galatians explains this when he says: My little children, of whom I am in laborr again, until Christ be formed in you! (Galatians 4:19). When Christ is preached, that is, listening to the Word of God, we are able to believe because faith comes from hearing. Then we can love. Everything is connected: there is no love without faith, and no faith if the Word is not heard. For he who loves believes, and he who believes hears the Word, as the Spirit reveals it interiorly.

This Word of God is living, and the Father has given the power to have life in it, nothing more or less, as the Father has life in Himself. So the Word is not only alive, but it is also life, as He Himself says: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (Saint John 14:6). Since the Word of God is life, it is alive and can give life. For as the Father raises up the dead and gives life, so the Son also gives life to whom He wills. (Saint John 5:21). The word of God gives life when He calls the dead from the grave and says, Lazarus, come out! (Saint John 11:43). When this Word is preached, Christ gives to the preacher's voice, perceived externally, the power to operate within; for the dead become alive again and relive the joy of the children of Abraham. This Word, then, is living in the Heart of the Father, living on the mouth of the preacher, alive in the hearts of those who believe and those who love. And precisely because this Word is so alive, there is no doubt that it is also effective.

The Word of God is effective in its operations, and is effective when it is preached. Indeed it does not return empty, but produces fruit everywhere it is proclaimed; and effective and sharper than any two-edged sword when it is believed and loved. When the Word is spoken, its pierces the heart like sharp arrows, enters as a nail struck with force, reaching and penetrating the secret intimacy of the soul. In fact, this Word is more penetrating than a double-edged sword, because its power of engraving surpasses that of the most tempered blade and its acuteness that of any intelligence. No wisdom human, not any product of intelligence is as fine and thin as it, nor more acute than any sharpness of human wisdom and as ingenious as its reasoning.
With power received from on High the ministers of the Church wield the sword of God's Word as it is written: The two-edged swords in their hands (Psalm 149:6). And also: A sword is in their lips (Psalm 59:8). Will the Word not reach all the ears of those seeking salvation? If the tongue of the wicked, as the prophet says, is a sharp sword (Psalm 57:5), how much more will be the tongue of Peter, because he has the capacity for the unequivocal Word of truth. The Word of God penetrates not only the intelligence, subtlety and insight of man, but it is also able to separate truth from falsehood, good from evil, the honest from the corrupt. The Word of God works in all, taking advantage of grace to carry to completion in the faithful fear, love and every other virtuous seed that God has placed in us. Even more amazing is the fact that it arouses the secrets of hearts, shakes our deepest sensibility with expert force, penetrating even to the division of soul and spirit.