Hearers and Doers of the Word

Catholic bishops from around the world are currently meeting in Rome for the 12th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The formal topic of the meeting, which began on Ocober 3 and runs to to October 26, is The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. Both the topic and the working document for the synod (the instrumentum laboris) emphasize the fact that the Word is not just for our individual spiritual enrichment. Rather, the Word is meant to transform us so that we may carry out our mission of building the Kingdom of God.

The Letter of St. James speaks strongly about the inseparable union between Word and mission. He writes:

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like….[F[aith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

In the words of the working document, “The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known – it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.” This is good reminder that loving God and loving neighbor are two sides of the same coin. The Word can never just be about me and God; being transformed by the Word require action in the world.