8: Adventures With the Light of the Word
new source of inspiration became The Holy Scriptures, which, as a “normal
Catholic,” I had never read before. When they were read out during the
holy masses (which as a young man and an adult person I attended only sporadically),
they were usually incomprehensible for me, especially the passages, which
started with the word “brothers”.
I heard “brothers,” I would take it as a signal to sit back and think about
something more interesting. After My Great Revolution, things changed.
A lot of words from the Letters to the early Church started to speak straight
into my mind and into my heart. I remember that once during a mass, the
priest read out the following passage from the Letter to the Galatians:
I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by
which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.
behind this sentence struck me with absolute clarity the moment I heard
it. My heart was filled with great joy and a desire to live my life that
way. After the mass, I went to the sacristy to ask the clerk where I could
find the passage. He was a little bit surprised by my question, but he
said that the passage was a Gospel Acclamation and that it was found in
the Letter to the Galatians, chapter 6,verse 14. What an unusual feeling
to understand a reading that usually comes after the word “brothers”! I
actually wanted to live like the man who wrote it!
experiencing such things more and more often and I realized that in that
way God was feeding me with his Word. And that special passage from the
Letter to the Galatians became a true and very practical compass for me.
Whenever I am tempted to brag about something, these words come back to
me. Unfortunately, they often come as an afterthought and sound more like
remorse: “You’re proud of something else again!” I wish I was humble
by nature like some people I know, but unfortunately I tend to be rather
vain, so I use this verse to put my feet back on the ground and learn humility
role in giving a new shape to my life was played by my friendship with
Father Joachim Badeni. When our community was being formed, he was transferred
from Kraków to Ustron, which is a stone’s throw from Bielsko-Biala.
One night I was giving him a lift to the monastery from one of our meetings.
long have you been faithful to your commitments?’, he asked about my involvement
in Church and abstinence from alcohol.
been about four years now, Father.’
how have you managed to persevere so long?’, the question came from a man
who had lived the ascetic life and worked with students in Poznan, Wroclaw
and Kraków for many years.
to think for a moment. How did I do that?
I replied ‘I suppose I have this highlander’s nature, that I acquired as
a young man. I just got the ‘bit between my teeth’ and I’ve been holding
on to it ever since.
interesting’, he replied ‘because for me it’s just been God’s grace.’
that was embarrassing! I realized I was a moron! Got the bit between my
teeth! Tough guy! Right! Like it would work in my case! Why was I proud
of something else again? Of some imaginary quality I don’t even
possess! That was a very important lesson of humility that came through
just a few simple words of Father Joachim Badeni. Instead of saying, ‘It’s
only by grace, you fool’, he said that the way I saw it was interesting.
time I was waiting for someone at the hospital. I had a half of an hour
to spare and the weather was beautiful, so I sat on a bench outside, took
out my Bible and began to read Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Here is
what I came across:
by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For
what flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires
is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent
you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are
not subject to the law. (Galatians 5, 16-18, NRSV)
a difficult passage; I gawked at the verses. Suddenly the lines started
to glow like a neon sign. That’s obvious! Of course! Without the guidance
and the power of the Holy Spirit, all the Old Testament laws, including
the Ten Commandments are “imposed from the outside”, strange. “Flesh”,
that is the fallen nature will always fight against it. The obligation
to observe the law is like slavery. Everyone who is a slave to the flesh
sees the Gospel teachings as a violation of their nature. If you choose
to be guided by the Holy Spirit, you will understand the intentions of
the Lawmaker and you will gladly fulfill His law, which you will consider
your own. That’s what freedom in the Holy Spirit is! So there I was, sitting
on a bench with a Bible on my lap, much more impressed by the light of
the Word of God than by the beautiful sunshine.
one of my latest adventures with the Word to my father-in-law. The father
of my wife and her sister Grazyna is a really tough guy. He is a lawyer,
at the age of 82 still working actively and skiing in his free time. A
couple of weeks ago, while staying at the hospital, he read The Heavenly
Man, a book about the persecuted church in China. The book was a present
from Grazyna, who has a gift of evangelizing the members of our family.
After reading the book, my father-in-law went to the hospital chapel to
confess his sins for the first time in sixty years. I was abroad when I
heard the news and reacted to it like a ‘doubting Thomas’ ‘I would not
believe in my father-in-law’s conversion until I had talked to him personally.’
to the hospital right after my return to Poland. He welcomed me with a
relaxed smile on his face.
I’ve been reading the Bible! I’m looking at Matthew’s Gospel at the moment.
There are so many questions that I would like to ask you. Will you explain
some things to me?’, he showed me a piece of paper filled with dense writing.
not believe it! He looked like the guy I had known, but he spoke like a
completely different person!
try, but I can’t promise I’ll know all the answers.’
this passage in the Gospel of Matthew’, he opened his Bible and started
the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’
He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom
of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For those who have, more
will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have
nothing, even what they have will be taken away. (Matthew 13, 10-12, NRSV)
is this all about? What does it mean that those who have will be given?’
he have chosen an easier passage?’, I thought. ‘I don’t understand this
passage is one of the most difficult in the Bible… and it has been interpreted
in many ways…’, as I said this, I began to pray for help to the Holy Spirit.
Suddenly it hit me! The words took on the familiar glow.
what was the difference between Jesus’ disciples and the crowds that followed
crowds were with him a few hours a day or a few days a week. The disciples
stayed with him 24 hours a day, each day of the week. They had a close
relationship with Jesus—that is what made them different from the crowd.
This is what you can have and what you need in order to understand the
secrets of the kingdom, that is the Word of God itself. To those
who remain in close relationship with Jesus, the understanding of the Word
will be added. From those who do not have a relationship with Jesus, their
status, fame will be taken away, even if they were a learned Pharisee or
had a PhD in Theology…
so, it’s about a close relationship with Jesus?’
Dad, it’s about a 24/7 friendship.’
I had tried to talk to my father-in-law about friendship with Jesus one
week before, he would have only given me a surprised look…
you, Holy Spirit!’, I said in my heart.
2011 Andrzej Solecki
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