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October 1993

As soon as you heard the word that we brought you as God's message, you welcomed it for what it really is, not the word of any human being, but God's word, a power that is working among you believers. (1 Thess. 2:13)

These words are found in Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians. The introduction to the letter is full of expressions of praise, gratitude and joy: praise to God for the abundance of graces he has poured on to the Thessalonians and joy at the way they have responded to them.

In this verse, Paul draws attention to two of the effects of grace in particular.

As soon as you heard the word that we brought you as Gods message, you welcomed it for what it really is, not the word of any human being, but Gods word, a power that is working among you believers.

First of all, the Thessalonians received Paul's preaching not as human words but as the word of God. There is a clear reference to that supernatural light through which God, by means of Paul's preaching, made his truth and his saving love shine forth in all its splendour in the hearts of the Thessalonians.

Equally clear is Paul's reference to the Thessalonians' openness and readiness to accept the Gospel (1:3; 2:2). God reveals himself to the humble, to those who do not rely on their own talents and natural ability. Such people do not filter the Gospel through the characteristics of the human instrument, the apostolic minister, that God uses to communicate it.

As soon as you heard the word that we brought you as Gods message, you welcomed it for what it really is, not the word of any human being, but Gods word, a power that is working among you believers.

The gift of faith, furthermore, did not remain inactive in the Thessalonians! They became imitators of Paul and of the Lord (1: 6), witnesses and models of the new life in Christ, and were known as such in Macedonia and Achaia (1:7). This brings into light the other aspect of believing: its irresistible dynamism. While the light gives us a deeper understanding of the Word of God, it also overwhelms us, stirs us and encourages us to incarnate it in our lives.

As soon as you heard the word that we brought you as Gods message, you welcomed it for what it really is, not the word of any human being, but Gods word, a power that is working among you believers.

How can we live the Word of Life this month? Jesus does not cease to communicate and explain his Gospel to us too, making use of his Church, of the apostles of today, and of all means and opportunities.

But how do we respond to such a wealth of light? Isn't it perhaps true that sometimes we treat the Church's teaching as merely human teaching, filtering it on the basis of how comfortable we feel with it, according to current ways of thinking and fashionable philosophies? The Church's teaching then remains without light or strength for us.

But we can correct this rather warped tendency. Let's readopt the attitude to which Paul recalls us and welcome preaching as the word of God, mindful that in the Church it is Jesus who continues to speak to us and guide us. This is the only way the Word will be able to produce in us the fruits of renewal for which Jesus came on earth.

Chlara Lubich

 

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