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Archbishop Bruno Forte on Scripture

1/28/2007 - 6:40 AM PST

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"Listen to His Words, Let His Heart Speak to Yours"

CHIETI, Italy, JAN. 28, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the pastoral letter written in Italian by Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, member of the International Theological Commission, on the theme "The Word for Living: Sacred Scripture and the Beauty of God."

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The Word for Living: Sacred Scripture and the Beauty of God
Pastoral Letter for 2006-2007

Let us try together to understand what the Word of God is: If you truly understand it, with the mind and with the heart, you will feel the need to bring yourself to listen to the Words in which it is God himself who speaks to you, giving you the light to know yourself in truth, wisdom to discern the signs of his presence, strength to make you able to speak to him Words of love, which are the voice of your prayer, confession of your humble faith, song in the song of the whole Church, which is born from the Word and is called by the Word to be a witness unto the ends of the earth.

1. Why a letter on the Word of God?

I thought I should write you a letter on the Word of God because I am convinced that in our complex society something is happening that is similar to what is described in the book of Amos: "The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will send a hunger into the country, not hunger for bread nor thirst for water, but of hearing the Word of God" (Amos 8:10). I recognize this hunger in the need for love that is in each of us, men and women of this "post-modern" time. We are becoming more and more prisoners of our solitude. Only an infinite love can satisfy the expectation that burns inside of us: Only the God who is love can say to us that we are not alone in this world and that our house is in the heavenly city, where there will no longer be neither sorrow nor death. "From that city," writes Augustine, "our Father has sent us letters, he has sent us the Scripture, and from this awakens our desire to return home."[1]

If you understand that the Bible is this "letter of God," which speaks to your heart, then you will approach it with the trepidation and the desire with which one who is in love reads the Words of the beloved. Thus God, who is Father and Mother in love, will speak just to you, and the faithful, intelligent, humble, and prayerful listening to what he says to you will slowly begin to satiate your need for light, your thirst for love. Learning to listen to the voice that speaks to you in sacred Scripture is to learn to love: The Word of God is the good news against solitude! For this reason listening to the Scriptures is a listening that liberates and saves.

2. God speaks!

Only God could break the silence of the heavens and irrupt into the silence of the heart: Only he could speak to us -- as no other -- Words of love. This is what happened in his revelation, first to the chosen people, Israel, and then in Jesus Christ, the eternal Word made flesh. God speaks: Through events and Words that are intimately connected, he communicates himself to men. Put in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these texts constitute sacred Scripture, the dwelling of the Word of God in the Words of men. The Word of God is God himself in the sign of his Word! It shares in his power: "For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my Word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10ff).

The Hebrew Word "dabar," usually translated as "Word," means Word just as much as action: Thus, the Ten
Commandments are called "the ten Words" in Hebrew, to indicate that they express both the demands of God's love and the help that he gives for following them. The Lord says what he does and does what he says. In the Old Testament he announces to the children of Israel the coming of the Messiah and the founding of a new covenant; in the Word made flesh he accomplishes his promises beyond all expectations. The First Testament and the New Testament narrate the story of his love for us, according to a path with which God prepares his people for the gift of the covenant's fulfilment: the Old Testament is illumined by the New and the New is prepared by the Old! How can the grown tree be any less than the roots from which is comes? "If the root is healthy, the branches will be too Know that it is not you who carries the roots but that the roots carry you" (Romans 11:16, 18). For this reason the disciples of Jesus love the Scripture which he himself loved.

3. The Word becomes flesh

"And the Word became flesh and came to dwell among us" (John 1:14). The fulfillment ...

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