A Graced and Effective Word

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JULY 10, 2011, FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Patricia Datchuck Sanchez

Is 55:10-11; Ps 65; Rom 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-23

According to an anecdote preserved among the French, Napoleon Bona parte (1769-1821) was once reviewing some troops in Paris when he carelessly dropped the bridle on his horse's neck. Instantly, the animal set off at a gallop, while Bonaparte clung to the saddle lest he fall to his death. One of the foot soldiers broke ranks and sprang before the horse, seized the bridle and handed it to the unnerved Bonaparte, who said, "Much obliged to you, Captain!" With just a word, the man who made himself emperor had made the soldier an officer. The new captain saluted and responded, "Of what regiment, sire?" Napoleon replied, "Of my Guards!" and galloped off.

With that, the soldier approached a group of officers. One of the generals asked what he wanted. "I am the Captain of the Guard," said the soldier, proudly. "You, mon ami, are mad to say this!" came the retort. "But, he said so," replied the soldier, pointing to the emperor, who was still in sight. The general respectfully begged the soldier's pardon--the emperor's word was sufficient.

The anecdote leads us to ask ourselves: If the word of a French ruler was so respected, how much more does the Word of God command our respect and attention? If the word of an imperfect human being could transform a person's status in life, how much more can the word of God transform the lives of those who hear it and heed it? If a soldier could become bold and daring because of a word spoken by his commander in chief, how might the word of God embolden and strengthen each of us as we allow that word to be a living reality in our lives?

Fully convinced of the power of God's word, the prophet known as Deutero-lsaiah (first reading) wished to share this conviction with his embattled contemporaries. During the exile in Babylonia, the prophet had kept the word of God resounding in their hearts with promises of comfort, reconciliation and a new beginning. …