Listening to “Christ the Word”
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
It is easy to become confused with references to “Christ the word”. Let’s just remember that it refers to the second person of the Holy Trinity — to Jesus Christ. It was St. John the Apostle who first used the term in this way. It will help us in our preparatory study to reflect a little on his special use of “The Word”.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and
we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of
grace and truth.” [N.A.B.]
God the Son is the Father’s message of love, calling us to be children of God, to be born of God (verse 13). Jesus is also the light to guide us on our way (verse 9). All scripture demonstrates the immensity of God’s love for us, and nowhere more so than in the sending of Jesus to “pitch his tent” to “tabernacle”, to pitch his lot in with humanity — for that is what John 1: 4 means.
“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the
light of the human race; ….. [Verses 11 — 13]
He came to what was his own, but his own people did not
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become
children of God, to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human
choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” [Verse 9]
“The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming
into the world.”
But when a word is spoken, it is meant to be listened to — it is for the person(s) spoken to. We had better take this seriously.
Reading the Bible prayerfully, reflecting on portions of the message, allowing Scripture to absorb us: all this is listening to the Word.
It is listening to the words in a way which enables us to hear the Word behind the words, or to hear the Word within the words. As we learn to respond to the WORD, so we become united with Him in a way which continues to grow.
Jesus Is Our Model
At several places in his Gospel, St. John shows Jesus listening to the Father. Jesus stressed the fact that everything he has learned from the Father, He has made known to us. Jesus is therefore a great listener, and one worthy to be listened to, first because of the source of his knowledge and secondly because what he speaks is for us to hear.
A few Bible references [New American Bible] will demonstrate how Jesus expressed his role.
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is
in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” [John 14: 10]
“Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the
word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”
[John 14: 24]
“Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
….. because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came
from you, and they have believed that you sent me.”
[John 17: 7 — 8]
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know
what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because
I have told you everything I have heard from my Father”.
[John 15: 15]
Listening to the Word
Listening in prayer to the words of Jesus is listening to Jesus the Word of God and this is what we call Lectio Divina Meditation. Christians describe their meditation in other ways as well. However, the remembering or recitation of scripture and listening to it in the silence of our hearts is an ancient and well established practice of God’s people. It is following the model Jesus gave. It is waiting upon God. St. Peter is one of the first to give voice to this in the Christian era. Simon Peter answered Him, “Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” [John 6: 68 — 69]
In Lectio Divina Meditation we listen in an interior way. We open our whole selves (body and soul) to the Word. We feed on the Word. As we listen and hear, the Holy Spirit takes us into the Word — if we respond as the Spirit leads. As John Chapter 14 infers, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to pray, so this is something for which we can ask help to do better. Prayer is a gift, (one of the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit) and we should never take it for granted. Rather we should ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to pray more lovingly. We can put our total confidence in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have our Lord’s own assurance of that as we read in John 16: 14 — 15 [N.A.B.]
“He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”