Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily during the Come and See discernment retreat for men Dec. 31.
“In the beginning was the Word” — with a capital W. This phrase at the beginning of John’s Gospel is one of the richest statements in the entire New Testament.
Here he is obviously speaking about Jesus, calling him “The Word.”
The word for “word” in Greek is “logos” and does not just refer to static vocabulary items as in English or Spanish. Rather, “logos” is a dynamic reality, an utterance that causes something to happen, a plan to unfold, hence our English words “logic” and “logistics.” So in the Genesis account of God creating the world in seven days, we have repeatedly “God spoke ... and so it happened ...” His word was dynamic, creative and as we see in today’s Gospel, that creative Word was Jesus. He was already there in the beginning: “In the beginning was the Word” and this Word was not just “with God,” John adds that “the Word was God” because as we know, Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. “All things came to be through him and without him nothing came to be.”
Notice therefore that when “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us,” this was not merely to be a nice event for us to marvel at. Rather, Jesus came with a mission.It was an event with a purpose.
Not only was he the Logos, the Word, he also had a Logos, a plan. That plan was the inner logic, the principle around which all the rest of his life was organized — from the day of his birth on Christmas, through all the events of his public ministry, all the way to his death on Calvary and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The Father’s plan was for Jesus to save the world, and you and I are part of that plan. That’s why we have this Come and See weekend. Our role in that plan gives our lives meaning and purpose as well.
“In the beginning was the word” — in our case with a small “w.” That is, you and I are united to Jesus by our baptism in such a way that his purposes become our purposes, his Logos, his logic, becomes our way of thinking, becomes our own inner logic and each of us has a specific, God-given role in that plan.
That Logos, that word inside us, that vocation, that call, is dynamic — not static. It tugs at our heart. Some of us have experienced that word one way or another as far back as we can remember — even “in the beginning” in the words of our Gospel! We may try to push it away but it comes back. But I can tell you that when responded to, it becomes creative and fulfilling in ways that you just have to experience to understand. For many of you — like for me and the seminarians that you have met — that word is the call to the priesthood.
I hope that you have encountered Jesus in a deeper way during this time together. I remember the Come and See Weekend that I attended as a high school student many years ago. Up to then I had not realized that I was not alone in feeling the feelings I was feeling. Knowing that others felt that same tug in their heart gave me the courage to open my heart up more to receive the great gift that the Lord was offering me. And to set aside other possibilities that I would have liked but were not God’s will for me. I began to pray more starting in 11th grade, working up eventually to 20 minutes a day, usually in the morning before going to school. This time with the Lord helped me to gradually hear his word more clearly, the word he had planted in my heart, the call he had for my life, my vocation, my role in his plan. I hope that this time together will do the same thing for you. Give you courage and lead you to greater insight.
“In the beginning was the Word” — in your case, word with a small “w.” Only Jesus is the Word with a capital “W.” But the word in your heart is nevertheless a big word for you.
I pray that you will not only listen so as to discern well what the Lord is saying to you in the depths of your heart, but also that you will then take the next step in the direction of taking up your role in his plan, whatever it is, with courage and sincerity.
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