Fr. Gerard D’Souza, OCSO
1st Tuesday of Lent
Is 55:10-11 / Mt 6:7-15
The prophet Isaiah speaking for God provides an important image. He likens the Word of God to the rain and the snow that come down from the heavens. We should therefore follow this closely. The rain and the snow comes down on earth. We never see it again as rain and snow. We see a watered earth. We see the seed sprouting. We see plants growing, the grain ripening, the grain crushed into flour and then made into bread. The initial snow and rain has disappeared as snow and rain and yet look at its fruitfulness. It lives on in its effects. It is present in the watered earth. It is present in the seed. It is present in the grain and in the bread. It is multiplied many times over.
This image of the snow and rain which we can see has been given to us so that we can transpose what happens to the spiritual level where things are invisible but real. If we just go by our physical senses we can miss out on it. Christ Jesus the Word made flesh is so truncated – He has all the physical limitations of a human being. He is born poor. He is born in the boonies. He weeps, hungers, thirsts, suffers, dies. His disciples are simple, ordinary men. He is a victim of violence and power. Most reject him. The learned ignore Him. His message is not something the brilliant can sink their teeth into. His gospel puts off the sophisticated as it did St Augustine in the beginning. If anything God’s word resembles the snow and rain that sort of come down and disappear. It resembles a failure.
So anyone who uses only the outer senses and natural reason will see a word that sounded and then died. But to those with faith and whose inner senses have come alive, the Word that dies and disappears has borne fruit past counting. Where is the natural habitat of Christ? It is the Church – in Her prayer, her faithful, in the sacraments, in the martyrs, the doctors, her art, her culture. This is where we must look if we are to understand God’s promise that His word will never be void. Usually what happens we stand over the Word. We read the Scriptures to question them as to the legitimacy of Christ. We chop Christ into pieces in our exegesis and then try to put Him together with little success. He appears as a desiccated idea and not the Way, the Truth and the Life He said He is.
To understand the Word we must not stand over but stand under the Word. We come it to as true and as holy and let it question us. We must sense ourselves in the great sea of the Word, its natural habitat being the cosmos itself and we poor creatures being given a small glimpse of the hidden glory scattered far and wide through the cosmos gathering every element into subjection to Christ Jesus.