• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Tuesday, 27 February 2018 11:33

Rooted in the Word - a reflection


Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD 150 LighterBy Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD


One of the things that all Divine Word Missionaries have to do when we are assigned to a foreign country is to learn the local language. And in the process of acquiring the language skills, we progress from learning simple sentence structures using basic grammatical rules and easy vocabulary to practicing how to form more sophisticated sentences with more complex linguistic rules.

Each language system has its own unique characteristics and therefore requires a specific approach to learning it. Those of us who are assigned to Thailand usually start learning the language by memorizing basic patterns and common vocabulary that fit those patterns. For example, you can have a sentence like: “Thai food is delicious, but spicy.” Once you have mastered this pattern, you can make new sentences like: “Japanese food is delicious, but expensive.” Or “Bangkok is beautiful, but crowded.”

This is a different approach compared to learning Romance languages like Latin, where a lot of our time is spent on conjugating verbs and nouns. I remember when I was learning Latin, I would spend hours just running off all the different forms of a verb: porto, portas, portat, portamus, portatis, portant. And that’s just the present form!

In the beginning was the Word 450While part of our ability to be at home with a new language involves personal academic effort, a lot of the process of making that language becoming our own, even if we never become totally fluent at it, has to do with our ability to make ourselves at home among the people who speak that particular language. Fr Peter Ha Tran, who is studying Thai in Bangkok at the moment, makes his round at the local market every afternoon not just to buy food for dinner, but also to practice his Thai with the vendors who sell meat, fruits and vegetables. When I was studying Thai, I often practiced with the laundry lady who worked for the Redemptorist Community in Bangkok where I was staying.

Being at home with the language means understanding the nuances of the word, being able to differentiate the different contexts to which it refers, being able to appreciate the humour, the ethos, the irony, even the indirect jibes meant behind the use of particular words. None of this, however, is possible if we don’t make ourselves at home with the people who utter these words, who use particular words to describe particular events in their lives, who select one word over another to communicate their needs and emotions.

In short, to be at home with a language is to be in close relationship with the owner of that language, to have connections to the real life experiences of the original speakers of that language, to empathise with as well as appreciate both the past and present of the people whose history has given rise to these words.

As Christians, it is not just the words of the language which we speak or learn that are important, but the Word that comes from God. All of us are called to be rooted in this Word. But what is the Word of God? It is not a series of letters organised into literary codes with specific meanings to simply be read or to be heard or even to be analysed. To be rooted in the Word is in fact to be in intimate relationship with the God who inspired these words, and who throughout salvation history has called upon the likes of Isaiah, and Jonah, and Saint Paul of Tarsus to proclaim them to all willing to open their hearts and ears to listen.

To be rooted in the Word is not just about being able to appreciate its aesthetics, but to be deeply and personally connected to Jesus Christ who is the embodiment of that Word, and who has revealed its profound meaning through his own suffering, death and resurrection. To be rooted in the Word then is about making ourselves at home with God and God’s incarnate Word in our daily life, allowing for that experience to teach us more profoundly about God, and we in turn recognise more clearly about who we are.

Our rootedness in the Word, manifested in our relationship with the Trinity: God who gives us the Word; Christ the Word incarnate, and the Holy Spirit who leads us ever more deeply into the truth of the Word – affects greatly the quality of our relationships and our entire Christian life. In this, what is now called the post-truth era, where the Good News is mocked as Fake News, where scientific truth about climate change and global warming is characterised as a hoax, and factual truths are tossed out in favour of subjective opinions and personal feelings, it is more important than ever that Christians be rooted in the Word of God, who is the Source of Love and Truth. Only then can Christians continue to serve as witnesses to the truth of the Gospel which can withstand the test of time, technological advances, and changing philosophical currents.

As we journey through this Lenten Season, let us spend time with the Word of God as well as God of the Word, so that through this spiritual endeavor, we are able to deepen our relationship with God as well as all the people in our lives.