We are living in an age characterized by immediacy. Not only are we able to have instant access to each other when and wherever, but we expect to be virtually inserted into every disaster scene or, depending upon oneís taste, sports event in the world.
But it seems to me that while this level of communications technology is advancing rapidly we are witnessing a decline in the quality and accuracy of the most fundamental of all the tools in our bag...the spoken and written word.
I suggest that most of us use "words" very loosely not to mention profusely. It is as though "words" were without substance and that no one in his right mind should hold us accountable for what we say or how we say it.
We tell a dear one that we love them, but we also tell them how much we love fried eggs! We speak of Jesus as divine...but then so is the dress in the shop window! We make solemn agreements and forget them...promises, and ignore them.
Words! Words! Words!
Some people make a profession out of speaking but in the final analysis, say nothing.
God says to us: "When you are speaking to me, be very careful of what you say because I DO hold you responsible for every word and if there is anything that angers me it is hypocrisy. And when you HEAR MY WORD, be sure to tune in with care because I mean what I say and I expect you to listen and to accept the responsibility of one who has heard.
How easy it is for us to cry: "Lord, Lord!" How easy for us to respond: "Amen." How easy to mouth the sacred words of the Lordís Prayer.
How much is empty words as opposed to an expression of conviction, commitment and determination?
Each of us ought frequently to ask that question of ourselves.
Jesus meant to disturb us when He said: "It is not those who say to me: Lord, Lord, who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven but rather the person who does the will of my Father."
He tells us that if our words of prayer are empty...not simply uttered in a temporary state of distraction, mind you, but empty...then He will tell us to our faces, "I have never known you!"
What a horrifying thought! "I have never known you!" You have never entered into a personal relationship with me. I gave myself to you but you have never truly given yourself to me. All you did was talk.
TALK, Jesus reminds us, is like sand - it shifts and runs away. But acts of good will are like rocks, firmly fixed in the cement of value and commitment.
You see, the measure of our faith has little to do with the amount or the volume of our words and has everything to do with the way we live.
Just as the words: "I love you" are meaningless on the lips of an unrepentant philanderer, so too is the prayer of the habitual hypocrite.
There is none among us...not even one...who is totally free of hypocrisy.
To this reality within us, our response must be more than words.
May God grant to each of us the Grace of self-knowledge and repentance.
May our lives be guided by sensitivity to the Word of God.
May our prayers be marked by sincerity.
This we ask in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN.