2b. Listening to "Christ the Word"
It is easy to become confused with references to "Christ the word". Let's just remember that it refers to the second person of the Holy Trinity — to Jesus Christ. It was St. John the Apostle who first used the term in this way. It will help us in our preparatory study to reflect a little on his special use of "The Word".
The opening prologue to St. John's Gospel contains the well known verses (1, 2 and 14):
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning...
The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth". (N.I.V)
God the Son is the Father's message of love, calling us to be children of God, to be born of God (verse 13). Jesus is also the light to guide us on our way (verse 9). All scripture demonstrates the immensity of God's love for us, and nowhere more so than in the sending of Jesus to "pitch his tent" to "tabernacle", to pitch his lot in with humanity — for that is what John 1: 4 means.
But when a word is spoken, it is meant to be listened to— it is for the person(s) spoken to. We had better take this seriously.
Reading the Bible prayerfully, reflecting on portions of the message, allowing Scripture to absorb us: all this is listening to the Word.
It is listening to the words in a way which enables us to hear the Word behind the words, or to hear the Word within the words. As we learn to respond to the WORD, so we become united with him in a way which continues to grow.
Jesus Is Our Model
At several places in his Gospel, John shows Jesus listening to the Father. Jesus stressed the fact that everything he has learned from the Father, he has made known to us. Jesus is therefore a great listener, and one worthy to be listened to, first because of the source of his knowledge and secondly because what he speaks is for us to hear.
A few Bible references (New International Version) will demonstrate how Jesus expressed his role.
Listening to the Word
Listening to the words of Jesus is listening to Jesus the Word of God and this is what we call contemplative meditation. Christians describe their meditation in other ways as well. However, the remembering or recitation of scripture and listening to it in the silence of our hearts is an ancient and well established practice of God's people. It is following the model Jesus gave. It is waiting upon God.
In contemplative meditation we listen in an interior way. We open our whole selves (body and soul) to the Word. We feed on the Word. As we listen and hear, the Spirit takes us into the Word — if we respond as the Spirit leads. As John Chapter 14 infers, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to pray, so this is something for which we can ask help to do better. Prayer is a gift, and we should never take it for granted. Rather we should ask for the Spirit's help to pray more lovingly. We can put our total confidence in the guidance in the Holy Spirit. We have our Lord's own assurance of that as we read in John 16: 14 — 15 (N.I.V)
"He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
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