In the opening chapter of Evangelii Gaudium, we read the following words of Pope Francis:
God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.
The “unruly freedom” of the Word. The “unpredictable…power” of the Word. The unthinkable ability of the Word to “accomplish what it wills.”
This, my brothers, is what our Church needs to hear.
Too often we try to tame the Word of God. If, for example, the Word makes us uncomfortable, we assume that we have misunderstood it. Or if it seems unreasonable to us, we remind ourselves that ours is a religion of “faith and reason.” In other words, we distort God’s Word and make it our own (or even worse, Satan’s), and remain happily unchanged. If you don’t believe me, just ask yourself when the last time was that you heard the phrase“faith and reason” employed in defense of faith…
This kind of rationalizing, while understandable, is decidedly un-Christian. We must do away with it, and seek in faith to grasp the truth about the immense power of God’s Word. To do so is our indispensable duty as disciples of Christ. Our salvation, in fact, hinges on our having a deep and abiding faith in the power of the Word of God.
In speaking of God’s Word, I am not referring merely to the Bible. The Bible, to be sure, is the inerrant and perfectly trustworthy Word of God. It is “inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Moreover, the Church, as we read in the Catechism, “has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body” (CCC, 103). But the Word of God comes to us by means other than the Bible as well. It comes also through Church tradition and the magisterium, as well as in our personal communication with God in prayer.
Regardless of how it is transmitted, God’s Word is always a force to be reckoned with. It always bears within itself a mighty power beyond all human comprehension. We see this very clearly in Scriptures. For example:
“[T]he word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart (Heb 4:12).”
“So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Is 55:11).
These passages depict a Word of seemingly absolute power, in whose way stands no obstacle capable of thwarting its end. And yet, you might say that there is one limit to the power of God’s Word. Namely, human free will. For, make no mistake, God will not coerce us into loving Him; hence why I said our salvation hinges on our faith in His Word. For this reason, it is extremely important that we grasp (in as much as we can) the immense power of God’s Word, that we might trust in it and allow it to bear fruit in our lives. As you strive to do this, remember that you must “put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you” (Js 1:21). For, His is a Word that is “able to save your souls”, but not without your cooperation (Js 1:21, emphasis added).