The words of everlasting life

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One of the current problems air traffic controllers face is the multitude of languages of today’s international pilots. Under ordinary circumstances, a pilot is (hopefully) fluent enough in the language used at the tower to communicate effectively. In a crisis, however, pilots unconsciously go back to their mother tongue, which may not be understood by the tower. This can quickly turn a bad situation into a tragedy.

In a time of crisis, we too cry out in our mother tongue. As baptized Catholic Christians, that language is the language of Love and Prayer.

Recall the psalm refrain “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” What are those words? We hear them in today’s gospel reading. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” By following these commandments, we will enter into a holy life with God. We will have everlasting life.

When Christ named these great commandments, He was speaking to us in His mother tongue. It’s not English, or Aramaic, Hebrew, or Latin. It’s the vernacular that should be common to us all, the language of Love. These commandments are the essence of it. They are positive commands – not “shalt nots.” Through the power of love, they guide us in what to do, how to think and feel, how to act, how to believe. It is this that we are called through baptism, as new creatures in Christ, to make our mother tongue. It is the language the church, our mother on earth, encourages us to use. It is this language of love that Christ spent his life trying to teach us.

Combined with St. Paul’s exhortation “Pray always,” the language of Love and Prayer is given to us with the expectation that we will learn it and make it our own. It is important that we practice our mother tongue on a regular basis. It is equally important that we teach it to our children and grandchildren. The prayers we may only recite today, even if only from habit, could be our life support in a time of crisis. It is critical that we don’t deny either our children or ourselves this lifeline. In a time of crisis, when there are no other words to suffice, our mother tongue will be there for us.

Lord, you’ve given to us, the words of everlasting life. Let us inscribe them on our hearts, and on the hearts of our children for generations to come. Let us make your mother tongue our own for all times.

Linda Crowley