The Word of God is Not Fettered
Reflection on 2 Timothy 2:8-9
The guard looks in through the doorway and watches for a moment as the old man dictates to his young assistant. “Who are you writing to now?” the soldier asks gruffly.
“My son in Ephesus,” the old man replies.
“Your son? I thought you had no children.”
“My spiritual son. I have many children in Christ.” He pauses, then adds, “But there is no one like Timothy. I’d like him to come by winter,” he adds, looking at his young companion. “We’ll put that at the end.”
“All this work…writing, talking, teaching…. Why do you bother? I can go home at the end of the day and enjoy the freedom of life. You are always in chains. Your god has not yet freed you. I don’t think he will…this crucified Jesus of yours.”
Paul looks at the guard. “And risen. Crucified and risen from the dead. True, He may not deliver me from my prison. But it doesn’t matter; I am already free.”
The guard snorts. “Ah, go back to your writing. Foolishness, all this.” He turns his attention to the passers-by on the street.
Paul watches him, then looks again at Luke. “Write this: ‘Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered.’”
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The word of God is not fettered. It can neither be weighed down with chains nor locked up nor brought to a standstill. God has spoken, has made His word known to us. “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son…” (Heb. 1:1-2). For two thousand years the Gospel has been proclaimed, all over the world, in season and out of season. Throughout these centuries, numerous seasons have seemed untimely for preaching about Jesus, but these have never halted the missionary effort of the Church. In fact, we see that growth and fruit come, often abundantly, during difficult times. It was so even from the early days of the Church, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles: “And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria…. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1,4). The very scattering of the faithful brought the good news of Jesus Christ to other regions and peoples.
The word of God is not fettered. I thought of this verse a few days ago, as a new lockdown was announced for England (where I am, at present). Thankfully, churches, schools and workplaces are exempt from the restrictions here; nevertheless, as most of us are experiencing in our various circumstances, this seems an unfavorable time for evangelization. Or is it? I have witnessed, over the past months, the creative efforts of many, many people determined to find ways to continue to preach the Gospel.
The word of God is not fettered. Finally, I am convicted by my need to let the Word of God resonate freely in my own heart. God continues to speak in ever fresh ways through the Scriptures, but how easy it is to limit what I hear! It takes open ears and a receptive heart to be truly attentive to His voice. In other words, I need to give Him the freedom to speak to me as He wishes.
The word of God is not fettered. God continues to speak to us through His Word, and we can continue to let Him work through us, no matter what season the world is in. Let us, then, be open and attentive to what He wants to say to us and how He wants to work through us, in our own lives and in these very times.
Sr. Cecilia Francis, CFR