Words Matter

I love ‘R U OK?’ Day. It’s amazing how those four letters convey so much meaning: I care about you; I’m interested in how you’re going; I’m here for you; I want to understand and share in your experience; I’m here for you…

Perhaps we don’t often stop and reflect on the impact of our words. But we do know that words can build people up and even tear them down. Through a failure to speak, our omissions, we can allow injustice, or even be complicit in evil.

Clearly, words can be extremely powerful. This is very true in a Judeo-Christian worldview: God created the universe through words. In the Gospel of John, we read that in the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and lived among us (Jn 1:1,14). Our universe isn’t random – its intelligible because it has been thought out by a loving God who chose to become part of creation; and not only part of creation, but someone in creation. Someone who continues to speak to us and through the sacraments, his words continue to change reality.

What about us? Do our words change reality for the better? Do we use them to build up or tear down? To stand up for dignity, truth, and justice? Do our words bring joy, happiness, and laughter to others?

Hopefully our words are not to mere flattery or deceitful – otherwise they do not correspond to reality and undermine our integrity. According to Jesus, much can be said about the character of a person by the words they use: “The words of the mouth flow out of what fills the heart” (Lk 6:45).

Let’s be mindful of our words. And perhaps, today, we can reach out to another and show our genuine love and care for them through the words we consciously choose. Together, let us create something beautiful.

BIO: Father Paul Nulley is the ACU Chaplain at the Signadou Campus in Canberra, the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, and is the Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, O’Connor. Father Paul enjoys running and music, especially the musical patrimony of the church.

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