. . . the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe. 

Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

Today is the feast of St. Augustine.  So let’s take a look at how Augustine experienced God’s word “at work”:   through another Christian.

When Augustine arrived in Milan to teach rhetoric in the pagan schools there, he heard of the reputation of Ambrose, Milan’s bishop.   The people loved him, and that sparked first interest and then admiration in Augustine.   He felt drawn to Ambrose and often listened to him as he preached.   But Augustine needed more than persuasive preaching.

As Ambrose took Augustine under his wing and treated him like a son, the walls around Augustine’s heart began to crumble.   “I began to love him at first not as a teacher of the truth . . . but simply as a man who was kind and generous to me” (Confessions, 5.13).   Clearly, it was the love that Ambrose showed him that made the biggest difference.   For Augustine, Ambrose had become a living word of God.

Similarly, the word was at work in the witness of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy as they ministered to the Thessalonians.   The way they loved the people, their dedication to the gospel, and their hard work moved the people to hear and embrace the good news of Christ.

Can it be any different for us?   It’s through our actions that we show people what it means to live the good news.   It’s in the rough-and-tumble of everyday life that the Spirit can make us into living words of God.

How does this happen?   Think about your own experience of faith.   Recall the people who have taken you under their wings, especially when you were struggling or felt directionless.   God gave them to you so that you could see what it looks like to live for him.   Their commitment to prayer and their willingness to care for you touched you and drew you to the Lord.

Let the examples of these people teach you how to be a living word yourself.   Look for small ways to reach out to the people in your life, and believe that God will bless you.   Even a tiny act of love can soften a heart.

“Jesus, help me to become your living word.”

Psalm 139:7-12
Matthew 23:27-32

Word Among Us