Listen to me and your soul will live
On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, our first reading is chosen because of its link with Baptism: ‘Come to the water, all you who are thirsty’, but it is a beautiful and powerful invitation in its own right. First of all it alerts us to the plight of the poor and God’s promise to give them, for free, the things that are basic for life. This weekend we will be hearing about the work of the SVP, ordinary volunteers from parishes who fulfil that promise: seeking out and helping those who are in any kind of need, showing that our faith is not just talk but action too. Each of us will be invited to think about how we put our faith into action and specifically about whether we have the time and the gifts to join the SVP and help to reveal God’s compassion and generosity to those in need.
Secondly it reminds us that, although we cannot function without the basic human needs of food, water, shelter and clothing, we also have much deeper needs. Everyone needs to be recognised, loved and affirmed, as Jesus was by his Father in the Gospel: ‘You are my beloved child!’ Being loved and nurtured by our human family is essential to our wellbeing, but knowing that we are loved by God is even more important, and we experience the love of God best by listening to his Word and reflecting together on it: as the prophet said, ‘Listen to me, and you will be fed; pay attention and your soul will live’.
The Word of God is as powerful and nourishing as the rain that waters the earth, making things grow and providing food for its people, but it will only work on those who hear and understand it. In four weeks’ time we will have a great opportunity to deepen the way we receive the Word of God as parish community: Dr Marian Tolley, who has spent a lifetime studying and proclaiming the Word, will spend Saturday 14th February helping our readers to understand and proclaim the Word better, and then she will speak at all the Masses that weekend about the wonder and power of the Word and about our responsibility to listen so attentively that we are changed by what we hear.
Then during Lent and for a few weeks after Easter, as we did last year, we will have a choice of times and venues each week to meet and reflect on God’s Word in relation to family life, the way we spread the good news and our own intimate relationship with God. If we put in this effort, we will be giving the Word a chance to succeed in what it was sent to do: make us more alive.