"You have one teacher, and you are all students (Mt 23:8).
By now we have been trying to live the Word of Life for seventy years. The text or commentary comes to us and we read and meditate on it.
But what we hope will remain is the sentence that is offered, a word of Scripture, and put it into practice, often from Jesus. The “Word of Life” is not simply a meditation, but it is Jesus himself who speaks in it.
He invites us to live, and always motivating to love, to make a gift of our lives. It was an “invention” of Chiara Lubich, who recounts its origins in this way: “I was hungry for truth, and I studied philosophy.
Indeed, more than that: like many other young people I sought truth and I believed I would find it in study. But then came one of those great ideas from the early times of the Movement, which I immediately communicated to my companions, ‘What point is there in looking for truth when it lives incarnate in Jesus, the God-man? If the truth attracts us, let’s leave everything, let’s look for Him, and let’s follow Him.’ And that is what we did.” They took the Gospel into their hands and began reading it word by word. They found it completely new.
“Each word of Jesus was a burst of brightly shining light, all divine! … His words were unique, eternal … fascinating, fashioned with a divine form … they were words of life, to be translated into life, universal words in the midst of space and time.” They discovered them not to be stuck in the past, not a mere memory, but words that He continuously speaks to us, as He does to each person in every time and place.1
Yet is Jesus truly our Teacher? We are surrounded by many proposals for our lives, by many teachers of thought, some of them so twisted that they even lead to violence, while others are straightforward and enlightening. And yet the words of Jesus have a depth and an ability to attract and move us that other words, whether they be of philosophers, politicians, or poets, do not possess.
They are “words of life.” They can be lived, and they give us the fullness of life. They communicate God’s own life. Each month we focus on one word, so that, bit by bit, the Gospel penetrates our spirit, transforms us, makes us acquire Christ’s very own thought, so that we are able to respond to the most widely different situations.
Jesus shows himself to be our Teacher. At times we can read the Gospel together. We would like Jesus himself, the Risen Lord, living in the midst of those who are gathered in his name, to explain it, to make it relevant for us, to suggest how we can put it into practice.
The really new thing about the “Word of Life,” however, is that we can share our experiences, the graces given when we live it, just as Chiara explained when speaking of what happened in the early times which we are living now: “We felt we had a duty to communicate to others what we had experienced, because we were aware that by giving it, an experience remained and built up our inner life, while, if we did not share it, bit by bit our soul was impoverished.
The Word was therefore lived intensely all day long and the results were communicated not only among us, but also with those who joined the first group….
When the Word was lived, it was no longer I or we who lived, but the Word lived in me, the Word lived in the group.
And this was the start of the Christian revolution with all of its consequences.”2
It can be like this today for us too.
1 - Scritti spirituali, vol. 3 (Rome: Città Nuova, 1979), p. 124.
2 - Ibid. pp. 128, 130.