Unchaining the Word of God

“THE word of God is not chained,” St. Paul says in his letter to Timothy as he was suffering in prison, chained because of his passion for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Such words are meaningful to us in this present time as we continue to face the problems of  violence, war, poverty, and apathy towards God around the world.

Yet, Paul’s words are true despite these constant challenges. Now and then the Word of God creeps up to penetrate our lives, be it in  churches, temples, books, newspapers, televisions, Internet and social networks. The work of New Evangelization that the John Paul II and Benedict XVI had asked to do happens when we post biblical verses, homilies, and heartwarming photos and messages on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

What is even more powerful are the living testimonies of people in sharing the truth, the goodness, and the beauty of the Gospel. Pope Francis is the leading example of our times. His words have infiltrated the technological world. God is using him to unchain and to unleash  the liberating power of the Gospel.

The Word of God has power to heal. Some months ago, a woman emailed me to thank me for an article I wrote about spiritual healing. “When I read your article regarding that particular Sunday, Father, I felt some relief. I kept it in my wallet and kept reading it over and over again. I even made copies for my friends,” this reader wrote to me.

In the Gospel this Sunday we encounter the healing words of Jesus. “Go show yourselves to the priests,” Jesus told the ten lepers. Luke’s Gospel tells us then that “as they  were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.”

We have to reclaim the Gospel’s potential to heal and to transform our lives. We cannot allow it to be hidden. Nor should we be timid about proclaiming it. Nowadays we must do this passionately and vigorously. As Luke 12:13 states, “Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

For many parishioners proclaiming the Gospel can be the simple task of taking a church bulletin to neighboring homes or leaving them at the lobbies of a doctor’s clinic. For the techie ones, it can be writing a brief reflection on the daily readings to post it on Facebook. For parents, it is the sacrifice of sending their children to a Catholic school or to a religious education program and convincing other parents to do the same. For others, it can be joining a church choir, volunteering as a lector, an usher or a catechist.

Still, the most powerful way to proclaim the Gospel is by our actions, the living in and out of the Gospel in our lives. It is through the demonstration of love, affection, and kindness in one’s church community and family.

May God open our lips to proclaim his Word so that we can unchain others from the darkness of sin and death!

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Reverend Rodel G. Balagtas attended St. John Seminary in Camarillo, California and earned his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.  For twenty years, he has been in the parish ministry of large multi-cultural communities.  Since 2002, he has been the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Los Angeles. Please email Fr. Rodel at odey413@aol.com. 

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