In the first reading we hear how John is to take the scroll and swallow it. In other words, he is told to take in and assimilate God’s word and make it his own—a word that he must embrace and then proclaim. The word tastes sweet in his mouth, but it turns sour in his stomach; this is because the initial encounter with God is always exciting and uplifting, but when the word we receive calls for repentance, or issues a stern judgment, it is harder to hear. And it is even harder to speak.
While this sweet-and-sour aspect of God’s word is interesting, what is more amazing is that God would speak to us at all—or, to put it more precisely, that we would be capable of receiving such wisdom and understanding it with our limited human intelligence. But again, that’s how much God loves us. He can’t stop reaching out to us, revealing to us his will and his wisdom.
And God is creative when he speaks to us. In addition to Sacred Scripture he uses many other ways of getting through to our hearts and minds. We may hear his word in a homily or in the prayers and responses at Mass. Sometimes words we have heard and spoken time and time again suddenly strike us in a fresh way. God may speak to us in a hymn or in poetry. And sometimes we become aware of God in the circumstances of our daily lives, inviting us to trust him or prompting us to reach out to someone in need.
If we are going to make God’s word our own, like Saint John, we need to take time to let them sink in. We may need to ‘chew on’ them for a while before we fully understand what they mean or how to put them into practice.
May we be always open to God’s word, ready to assimilate it and put it into action.