“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. (Hebrews 4:12). The Word tells us, “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life” (John 6:63).
The Bible, referred to as the Word or the Word of God, meets us in prayer and transforms us – mind, body, and soul until what we want most is to live out this word in our daily lives. In this way the Spirit becomes Alive in us.
The Word is not reserved for the Saints, the religious, the philosophical, or the people we perceive as chosen by God as special enough to comprehend its mystery. No, the Word is for everyone God has breathed into creation. The Word of God is for you and for me. It is personal between God and every human. Today the Word, as it was in the beginning and remains forever, is Alive.
Father Cristiano, a missionary priest consecrated in the Shalom Catholic Community currently living on mission in New York City, explains his experience with the Word of God. He says, “In the word of God I found the living person of Jesus Christ. He is the person – Word. The word becomes flesh and invites our flesh to become word of God. The word of God becomes flesh in Jesus Christ. And in communion with him especially in the holy Mass, our life, our flesh, becomes word of God as well”.
Father Cristiano adds that when he reads the gospel, or the readings of the Bible, he “always tries to make questions… to the word of God and [he] wait[s] for the word of God to answer to these questions”. He says that his homilies – the preachings of the word of God are “a fruit of this dialogue with the word of God when [he asks] some questions and get[s] answers. And also, [He] see[s] the word of God putting questions to [him]- making [him] questions and forcing [him] – inviting [him] to answer them.”
When preparing a homily or preaching on the word of God, Father Cristiano says he is inspired by the testimonies of the Saints. He says “the saints themselves are living words of God in the world”. He explains, “They try to embody the word of God in their lives so their testimonies, the way they read the word of God inspire [him] a lot.”
We sometimes pick up the Bible and find ourselves processing the Word as a textbook. Easily, we become disinterested, confused, and distracted when we take this approach. It is not until we prepare ourselves with reverence and openness to the Holy Spirit that we are able to acknowledge God’s living presence in the Word. This is how we sustain our attention, fall deeper in love with God through the Word, and open ourselves to allow the Word of God to live actively in and through us as did the Saints. Father Cristiano reminds us of the gift it is to interact with the Word. We can ask God questions, patiently allow Him to respond, and invite Him to generate new questions in our own hearts- all through His living Word.
McKenna Cassidy, a participant in Shalom New York’s prayer group shares about her experience interacting with the Word of God. She says, “I’ve recently learned that the Bible is the Word of God. From the Bible, God speaks to me in the present moment, imparting meaning into my day. For example, I find myself struggling to pray, or struggling with emotions of worry. I open the Bible and read: ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Turn to the Lord for mercy, for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways. Yes in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back…’ (Isaiah 55: An invitation to Grace). Reading these words gives me a spark of joy in my chest. The Bible is a dance between my thoughts and its words, between my heart and God’s love. That is, praying with the Bible is a dance between me and God. I approach this dwelling place of God, and I pray.”
Both Father Cristiano and McKenna’s testimonies of their experience with the Word of God inspire a fresh perspective in our approach to reading, praying with, and living out the Word of God.
On which platforms can I find these homilies?
The podcast is currently available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Breaker, PocketCasts, and RadioPublic. All are welcome on this journey to deepen their experience with the living Word of God.
Father Cristiano is a priest of the Catholic Church consecrated in the Shalom Catholic Community. He has been living in New York as a missionary since October last year where the Community has been present also since that time. He studied theology on the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum, in Rome and has a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
If you want to know more about the presence of the Shalom Catholic Community in the USA, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on instagram @shalomnewyork .