8/13: The Word Is Near You

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10 Pentecost, Aug. 13

Gen. 37:1-4, 12-28 or 1 Kgs. 19:9-18
Ps. 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b or Ps. 85:8-13
Rom. 10:5-15 • Matt. 14:22-33

Joseph, the youngest and favored son of Jacob, keeps watch over the flock with his brothers, whom he dares to review. He ponders and does not remain silent. Indeed, “Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father” (Gen. 37:2). Predictably, “they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him” (Gen. 37:4). At first they conspire to kill him, but then resolve to sell him into slavery. Thus, Joseph is carried to Egypt.

There his fortune rises, falls, and rises again. While imprisoned, Joseph interprets dreams that seal the fate of two fellow prisoners, the royal cupbearer and the baker. In time, the cupbearer is released and his life spared. At just the right moment, while Pharaoh is troubled by the meaning of two dreams, the cupbearer tells of Joseph and his dream-reading powers. Could it be that Joseph reads dreams precisely because he was once in a pit, and again in a prison? “His feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron” (Ps. 105:18). Unable to move, he could think, he could dream, he could see what others do not see. Dreams were near him, his own and those of others, and he could penetrate their meaning, he could see the word.

“The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (Rom. 10:8). Clarifying, St. Paul says, “the word of faith that we proclaim.” The cares of the world, the lure of riches, and the desire for other things may come in and choke the word; Satan may snatch it (Mark 4:13-20). The word is planted in your heart. The heart is a home, a monastic cell, a pit, a prison. A kind of madness may come of this, dreams and visions and ravings. But the word is “the word of faith,” the very Word made flesh, without whom was not made anything that was made. The word is the ordering wisdom of the Father. The word may seem ghost-like, a mere dream, but it is not (Matt. 14:26) This word is living and true, and requires the good soil of a solitary heart.

The word is near you, but it is not of you. It is coming to you. The word is proclaimed, and heard, and believed, and called upon. The word is planted like a seed in the soil of the heart. An inner resonance tumbles to the lips and confession comes forth. Is this real? Is faith firm?

One day Jesus’ disciples were caught in a storm on the open water. “He came walking toward them on the sea” (Matt. 14:25). They cried out, “It is a ghost!” Is it? Peter joined Jesus for a brief moment of water-walking. Noticing the wind, however, he became frightened and began to sink. “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him” (Matt. 14:31). This is how Jesus fishes for humans. He casts with his arm, catches with his fingers the hand of the one he loves, a disciple sinking into the sea. Salvation looks like this.

The word is very near you. He walks upon the water, he rides over the waves, he calls you to risk a new life and way of being, and saves you when you fall. “For it needeth us to fall, and needeth us to see it. For if we never fall, we should never know how feeble and how wretched we are of our self, and also we should not fully know that marvelous love of our Maker” (Julian of Norwich).

Go into your room and pray in secret. Your Father in heaven will plant the word, nearer to you than you are to yourself.

Look It Up
Read Matthew 14:13.

Think About It
Caught by your love.


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