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Thought for the weekend: How the living word of God can help us to build bridges

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

Published 07/05/2016

The old adage "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me" is, at best, wishful thinking. We all know only too well that cruel and hurtful words can have a long-term, devastating impact.

The Psalmist speaks of those who "sharpen their tongues like swords and aim bitter words like arrows" (Ps 64:3); and, when those arrows hit home, they can leave wounds that are deep, painful and lasting.

It is equally the case that constructive, kind and helpful words can do much to calm troubled minds, heal wounded hearts and soothe situations that are fraught with danger.

This Sunday, the Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension, is the 50th World Communications Day in the Catholic Church.

On the occasion of His Ascension into Heaven, the Risen Lord sends His disciples to continue His work, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Effective communication is essential to the spreading and proclamation of the Gospel.

In the Church, in the lives of Christians, the Word of the Father, made flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, continues to go forth to the ends of the earth (Ps 19:4).

The Living Word of God, in which Jesus invites us to make our home (John 8:31), is the making known, to all people, of God's compassionate and merciful love.

The Holy Spirit urges Christians, as bearers of the Word of God, "not to use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you" (Eph 4:29).

In his message for World Communications Day, Pope Francis reminds Christians: "What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God's compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all."

In our still wounded and divided society, the Holy Father's words are apt: "How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony.

"Words can build bridges. Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations."

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