By the way, it shows that the human qualities of your confessor or spiritual director are finally secondary, even though we do not deny their importance; but it is really a secondary importance. Now let us go to the point and to the primary importance, which is you.
If you are here today, I guess it is because you have heard the word of God, at least once, and certainly more than this. You certainly all have a different background. Some of you have always heard the word of God because you grew up in a Catholic family that was faithful to the authentic teachings of the Church. Others might have heard the word of God too since their youth, but this word was distorted because it was not told by the authentic Church founded by Jesus-Christ, and therefore, was submitted to the personal interpretation of persons who did not receive the divine mandate for this mission. Others might have never heard the word of God until recently or have rediscovered it after a long time.
But whatever your past life has been until today, what is important for each one of you is: How do you now receive the word of God?
Receiving the word of God is certainly first hearing it, but it is not enough. It is not enough because it is not a light Word, but a deep and serious one that we have to consider seriously. We can read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the word of God is living and effectual and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow: and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb.4:12) So, sometimes it hurts, like a sword, and we know that it hurts. Since we do not want to be hurt, we do not listen to it. The word of God may reach our ears but it does not affect our souls.
The word of God is effectual too, which means that if we accept it, it has some effects on us. It has the power to renew us, but only if we accept and collaborate with this work of renovation. On a practical level, that means a change of life. This change can be radical in the case of a sinner that converts to God, but it also has to be a constant and perpetual change that extends even after the first great conversion. The old man is tough and our nature is rebellious. We have to submit it in order to make it docile to God. Here comes the work of mortification, which is putting to death the old man so that we can be born again and be a new creature.
This program is not really joyful if we consider it only in its materiality. The world offers apparently more charms and pleasures than the word and if you do not go beyond the appearances, you might certainly choose the first one.
But how can you go beyond the appearances? This is precisely the point. We cannot go beyond the appearances of the world if we do not withdraw from it regularly in order to meet the word. We can meet the word and then assimilate it by meditating on it. There is a similarity between the Incarnate Word made bread of life that we eat, and the word, written or spoken that we hear or read. In fact, this one is just an expression in human language of the Incarnate Word, who is Himself the eternal expression of the Father.
When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the Incarnate Word and it is the more perfect mode of union on earth. The Sacraments are efficient by themselves, but their effects depend on our dispositions. Our Communions have to be well prepared by prayer and meditation, and well followed by another time of prayer of thanksgiving; otherwise it might be a kind mechanical action without any deep marks of affection and love. Assimilating the written word of God is necessary in order to assimilate well the Eucharistic bread.
The monastic tradition has forged a ladder with four rungs that leads from earth to heaven. These four rungs are lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplation – reading, meditation, prayer and contemplation. The sermon of next Sunday will explain each one of them if God permits it.
Now, let us turn to Our Lady and ask her to help us to dispose our hearts so that we can hear the word of God and accept it in our lives.