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Why Words Matter Today

Today, January 20, 2021, we will inaugurate the 46th President of the United States.  Two days later, January 22nd, is the 48th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision.  By the end of this month, our federal government would have executed three people.  Three different scenarios, three different expressions of political authority, and three different sets of protocols will define each of these proceedings.  Most likely, there will be more than three ways of interpreting each of these occasions. These manifold interpretations, or words, are to be expected.  And to be welcomed in a country that espouses freedom, democracy, and the common good.

Words have built fortunes, destroyed marriages, and forged peace.  Words are one of the greatest acquisitions of childhood.  Parents welcome their child’s first word with excitement and wonder.  Words can be “kisses or swords” as Pope Francis writes in an introduction to the new book, “Don’t Speak Ill of Others.”  Words matter because “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  We are familiar with hearing of God as our Shepherd, Friend, Redeemer.  Do we remember He also identifies as the Word?

For many of us, the ability to speak has been ours for a number of years.  I wonder if you have fully utilized its potential.  Have you said: “I love you”, “Thank you”,  “I am sorry,” or “I forgive you”?


"In the beginning there was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."

I wonder if you would try using words to rein in  destructive forces.  Have you said: “Consider this,” “Pray over it,” or “Every human is created in the image of God.  This is non-negotiable.”?

Today is January 20, 2021.  This will mean different things to different people.  For me, I hope it means I get another day to make this world a little more joyful, a little more hopeful, a little more humane.  I will do this with the gift that has been given me many years ago:  my words.

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Sr. Janine Vân Trần, CMR

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