HE WHO HEARS YOU, HEARS ME.... HE WHO REJECTS ME, REJECTS THE ONE WHO SENT ME. Jesus, who, as St. John tells us in his Prologue, is the Word of God made flesh, assigned remarkable importance to his words. He identified with his message; he put his whole person into his words. This was true to the point where he considered himself accepted and loved when his words were believed in and acted upon; likewise, when he was not listened to with a receptive attitude and believed in with a spirit of trust, he judged himself rejected. In today's text we are told, by implication, why this was such a serious issue: he was sent by the Father and represents him so fully that to close oneself to him is to reject the Father. "If you knew my Father, you would know me", Jesus told his critics (John 5: 19). He further explained that the way to becomes a disciple of his is by abiding in his word: "If you abide in my word then truly you are my disciple (John 5:31).
Jesus explains in various places why it is so important to take his words into one's heart. For one thing, he affirms "the one who hears my word and believes in him who sent me, has eternal life (John 5: 24)." Peter was to acknowledge the truth of this statement at a moment of decision: "Where should we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life"e; (John 6: 69). The Lord further made it clear that the words he spoke, most mysteriously, were not primarily his own, though he identified with them fully; rather, they were given him by the Father and he faithfully interpreted and pronounced them. As he told the Jews who were seeking to kill him for blasphemy when he identified himself with the Father: "He who is from God hears the words of God." By words of God here he refers to his own spoken words that they are criticizing him for witnessing to.
Jesus realized that his words were Spirit and unending life: "If anyone keeps my word he will not see death forever (John 8:52)." Our Lord passed his word on to his apostles and other disciples and commissioned them to carry on his mission of communicating eternal life through disseminating the Father's word as given through his beloved Son. This word has been transmitted not only in the Gospels and other New Testament writings, but also in the Church, by the instrumentality of his ministers and the teachers he raised up through the gift of his Spirit.
Through his words, received with faith and gratitude, meditated with the desire to understand his will which is one with that of the Father in order to serve him more faithfully, we can attain to a loving knowledge of him and come to be united with him. We see this illustrated in the life of the great monk and hermit, St. Bruno, whose feast we celebrate today. He took very seriously the word of the Lord urging us to be ready and to watch for his return. In a letter to a close friend he referred to this passage of Scripture that preserved our Lord's words, as well as others, by way of describing the meaning of the hermit life which he established, and which was to prove to be foundation of the Carthusian Order.
Let us follow his example and resolve to devote our time and energy and serious attention to Jesus' words and make them our own. They will form us in the likeness of our Savior if we but enter into them and strive to live according to their spirit and message. The word of the Lord cleanses our heart and purifies our mind and so prepares us to behold the light of his truth. We shall one day behold him in the fullness of that light, in the glory of God the Father, if we open our heart to this word, let it abide in us, and make it our daily concern to abide in it by faithfully carrying out the will of God which it makes clear to us. May the graces received here at the Eucharist strengthen our resolve to carry out this program which leads to life everlasting united in the love revealed by the Word made flesh.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
Return to Index.
Go to Archive.