By Orlando Hernández
Our expression, “The Word of God” has so many meanings and dimensions. I think of it as the Power that created everything, which is the infinite Love that God is. We also think of Jesus, the Logos, as the Word of God. “All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.” (Jn 1: 3) Prayer with Jesus is direct contact with the Word of God, specially at the Eucharist. We also read or listen to “The Word of God” in holy Scripture. I believe that our God speaks to us through the text. A passage can affect or instruct us in different ways at different times. Then, a preacher, a spiritual director, a child, a friend, a homeless person in the street, can suddenly speak to us with the Word of God.
In the end, I see the “Word of God” as God’s intent to communicate, and even more, to commune with us. Why? Because our God loves us with a love that is immense, and wishes us to experience this love, to share it, and act on it. Often the Word of God can seem beyond our understanding, as if it were an advanced, specialized, or foreign language. Yet we can still appreciate it, perceive the love, the invitation to intimacy with the Giver of Life, an invitation to the Glory and Joy that God is.
The problem is that, for many of us, for different reasons throughout the day, our hearts are like hardened, cold soil, unreceptive to the seed of this Divine wooing that is constantly taking place, even in moments of pain and sorrow. Only through perseverance on our part, united to God’s perseverance can we perceive the “Zoe”, the life to the fullest, that God speaks into us through His Word.
Last time I wrote about the “Season of Creation” that is now going on in our Church, a united focus on the beauty of, and also the threat to our planet and everything on it. We pray to our Creator:
“In the Season of Creation, we pray that You will call to us, as from the burning bush, with the sustaining fire of your Spirit. Turn us from our inward gaze. Teach us to contemplate Your Creation, and listen for the voice of each creature declaring Your Glory. Give us hearts to listen, enlighten us with Your Grace, and fill us with the hope to quench the fires of injustice with the light of Your healing love that sustains our common home.”
I pray that the Word of God be perceived in the beauty and wonder of nature, filling us with awe, love, and gratitude to our God.
I have never forgotten a story written by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, titled “The Handwriting of the God.” In it, an Inca priest or leader is imprisoned and starved by the Spaniards in a tiny dungeon. To torment him, his captors have put a jaguar right next to him, separated only by bars. The captive is waiting for the gods to rescue him by sending a holy message of power that will change everything. As he dies of hunger, he becomes fascinated by the designs and patterns of the jaguar’s fur, as they become more and more like mysterious words. In the end, the captive man understands “the handwriting of the god” and becomes free in the glory of a spiritual experience.
“The handwriting of the god”, The Word of God, is all around us. We can see it in those blessed days when the wind on the leaves seems to whisper sacred messages into our ears, or when the roar of the waves speaks of might and greatness. The rocks seem to converse when the brook rolls over them. The song of birds, even the sound of our breathing reminds us of the mercy and love of our life-sustaining God. The “handwriting” can be read in the patterns of the waves and ripples, in the textures of different barks of trees, in the geometry of leaves and flowers, the plumage of birds, the patterns in a cat’s fur.
Last week, at the Children’s Zoo in the Bronx I suddenly fell into this ecstasy of wonder and gratitude as I saw the beautiful, small creatures all around, surrounded by the music of the voices of four and five-year olds, filled with a joy that eleven year-olds can no longer feel in a place like this. The bark of a tree caught my attention when suddenly from a hole in the trunk a small, furry, black-and-white monkey emerged and looked straight at me. It was eating a little morsel. Unthinkingly, I uttered, “What’s that orange thing it’s eating?” From behind me a little voice said, “Don’t you know? It’s a carrot.” I turned around and saw this beautiful four-year old cautiously smiling at me. I suddenly remembered that we, God’s children, are also part of this wonderful tapestry. We are part of the message, the Word of God, which is Love. We are beloved!
Dear Readers, if you haven’t done it, just take a little time away from the computer, the phone, the TV, and spend some moments in a park, a garden, or a church.
Experience the Word of God. Only this way can we find the love and the zeal to save our suffering planet, our humanity, our trust in God’s eternal plan of Love!
If you want to know more about this observance of The Season of Creation, or about the Laudato Si movement, you can go to https://seasonofcreation.org/ –