Faith’s Nouns & Verbs

We say, “I will,” to some upcoming fun event. We say, “I could,” to something doubtful. We also say, “I won’t,” about a transition or change.

This is an English lesson, folks, so you may wish to take notes. We think the nouns are important, but it’s the verbs that matter. Nouns simply identify. Verbs act.

Isaiah is full of verbs this weekend. “Share,” a kindergarten lesson long forgotten. “Shelter.” “Clothe.” “Healed.” “Call” and “answer,” two powerful verbs. “Cry,” speaks for itself. More wonderful verbs for us to ponder, “bestow,” “satisfy,” “rise,” and (the best of all is his ending, “shall become.”

Verbs complete nouns. Verbs make nouns worth living. Nouns just stand out there. Priding themselves upon, who else? Themselves. Worthless without some kind of verb propelling that noun to some kind of action.

Isn’t that what this beautiful gift of faith is all about? We don’t just say, “I’m a believer.” That’s rock song written by Neil Diamond and sung by “The Monkees.”There is absolutely no active verb in that statement. Just sounds stale and trite. “I”m a believer.”

Those nouns? Jesus gives us life’s nouns. How many times do our prayers give glory, again and again, to the name of God. As if just saying the name justifies our faith life. Alas, those missing pesky verbs.

The nouns of Jesus this weekend? Easy. “Salt,” “city,” “light,” “mountain,” “lamp,” and finally, a “bushel basket,”

And those three sentences from St. Paul? It powerfully states that “It ain’t about me!”

Thank you Jesus for your nouns. How often we hear, “Is Jesus the Lord and Savior of my life?” Remember those who stopped you in the airport asking that question? I continued walking and yelled behind me, “I’m a priest!”The only verb we hear is, “is.” Pretty safe, secure, and truly stale. “Is” shouldn’t even be a verb. It’s simply a two-letter word getting from one noun to the next noun. Two nouns do not equal an action. It’s neither a good sentence. It’s only a declaring declaration to honor another noun. Ourselves. Life’s gift is from God. Jesus provides us with the nouns. The Holy Spirit instills within us the verbs prompting action in the name of the nouns we call Jesus and God.

Verb up your faith life. Verb it like you’ve never done before. In faith, because those verbs added to your vocabulary may very well transform your “I won’t” statements into “I can,” or better yet, “I will,” by the grace of the noun we call God.

So now you know what I feel like when hearing, “It is what it is.”

(Fifth Sunday Scripture Readings)

Is 58:7-10
Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

1 Cor 2:1-5
When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

Mt 5:13-16
Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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