Breathing the Word

Pencil Preaching for Thursday, April 20, 2023

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“The one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit” (John 3:34).

Acts 5:27-33; Jn 3:31-36

Before telephones, email and text messages, even before post offices, official messages were memorized by the messenger and delivered orally to the recipient. Exact wording was essential, so the messenger had to know his sender’s message “by heart,” so to speak. The messenger represented the sender and had his or her full authority.

John’s Gospel uses this imagery to say that because Jesus was sent by the Father, his words and actions were those of the Father. When Jesus sends his disciples to preach, their words and actions are those of Jesus. The breath, or Spirit, of the source is poured out when the disciple of Jesus delivers the Word of God.  This delegated power is an expression of the intimate relationship that now exists between the one sending and the one sent.

This whole process is an expression of love.  Jesus tells his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so have I loved you, and so must you love one another.” God’s love radiates forth in each successive exchange. The Spirit of God in Jesus, the Church and in each of us as baptized members of Christ, animates the whole mystery.  To be part of this radiant mystery is our privilege and our joy.

As you move through this day, think of yourself as a messenger and a message from God to others. What you have received, give freely. The Holy Spirit flows through you in full measure, being poured out in your words and actions. There is no rationing of such a gift. It will fill everyone and everything it reaches, limited only by the receptivity of the one receiving or rejecting it.

After a long winter indoors, we fling open the windows and take a deep breath of Spring. So it is with the Spirit. Breathe deeply, in and out. This is life. This is the joy of the Gospel.

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