By John Rae

Our Mother Tongue

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” I have been observing my 18-month-old granddaughter as she starts to acquire language. It is a mysterious process, and her grasp of language will let her develop into the unique little soul that I already see glimpses of.

The acquisition of our “mother tongue” lies beyond memory, beyond experience. As I watch my granddaughter develop linguistically, I realize what I went through, but I literally have no words for my own experience of acquiring words. Since the acquisition of language is “child’s play” we are often not aware of what a mysterious reality it is.

The Gospel of John opens with, ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. In the Garden of Eden God used words to explain to Adam and Eve the rules of engagement, within the reality of the created order. The serpent subsequently comes along and used his words to tell a lie, as words can also be used to tell lies. When Adam and Eve believed and acted on that lie, it poisoned their relationship with God, and they lost their use of the divine dialect.

There are children who because of the circumstances of their lives, for example – adoption, loose their “mother tongue” but when, at some point in their lives, they do eventually hear it spoken it sounds strangely familiar. After the lie, told and believed in the garden, we find ourselves facing a similar set of circumstances.

When, through all the background and foreground noise in our lives, we hear the Word of God, even though it may be just a whisper, we sense that it resonates with our being. It invokes a soul felt homesickness and a restlessness. Our souls need to be saved from their withering away in the shadow of the lie. Jesus wants us to develop into the unique little souls, that we were meant to be. It is by becoming child like and entering into the sacramental mysteries, that we start to re-acquire our spiritual “mother tongue”.

This gives a context to the Eucharistic prayer, where we say: “Lord I am not worthy.... but only say the WORD and my soul shall be healed”.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 June 2021 20:44