The Word of God, Not the Word of Men
St. Paul writes to the early Church in Thessalonica twice that we have recorded. In his first letter in the second chapter, he accounts how he and his companion left Philippi to preach the Gospel to them. He reminds them that he was “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:4) He described this tenderness as a nursing mother caring for her own children. He then reminds them that they worked night and day so as to not be a burden to the Thessalonians while they preached the Gospel to them. He reminds them how he exhorted them to “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thess 2:12)
Then he writes this:
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (1 Thess 2:13)
Earlier in the passage, St. Paul had mentioned how he had suffered because of the people of Philippi. Now, he is expressing gratitude that the Thessalonians had a different disposition. The people of Thessalonica had received the word of the Gospel as the word of God.
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How important it is for us today to remember that this is what we are called to as well. We are called to accept the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition as the word of God. Because truly that is what it is. The Church speaks with the authority of Jesus Christ and Scripture and Tradition flow from the same source the Word of God: the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God. When we receive the perennial teachings of the Church as faithful sons and daughters, we are receiving it as the word of God not the word of men.
How many today see the Church as the work of man? There is a synergy; yes. God invites our free cooperation after extending His grace. But the Church is divinely constituted; that is to say, it is formed by God and continues by His grace alone. When we read Sacred Scripture, do we reduce it to merely another text in a line of wisdom literature? When we hear the apostolic Sacred Tradition, do we follow it with the assent of faith or are we skeptical and desirous of progressive change?
The word of God is living and effective (cf. Heb 4:12) and we would do well to meditate on the great gift that we have been given in it. We are not a religion of the book. We are not a religion of written words. We are a religion of the Word of God, a Person: Jesus Christ.