THURSDAY HOMILY: A Relationship with the Lord and Reading the Bible. Lectio Divina
The Living Word, Jesus, speaks to us through the written word
In the Gospel for Thursday's Mass (John 5: 31-47) Jesus had some strong words for those who purported to know the Scriptures but did not even recognize Him: "You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life." As we move toward the end of the forty days of Lent, where are we in our relationship with Jesus and the Scriptures which speak of Him. When we hear the scriptures read at Mass, or read them in our prayer and devotion, do we experience the living Word of God being communicated through them?
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - In the Gospel for Thursday's Mass (John 5: 31-47) Jesus had some strong words for those who purported to know the Scriptures but did not even recognize Him: "You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life."
As we move toward the end of the forty days of Lent, where are we in our relationship with Jesus and the Scriptures which speak of Him. When we hear the scriptures read at Mass, or read them in our prayer and devotion, do we experience the living Word of God being communicated through them?
In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation we read these beautiful words, "(I)n the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life." (Paragraph 21)
The insight offered here is the key to fruitfully reading the Bible. The Living Word, Jesus, speaks to us through the written word. Understanding the Bible depends upon having a living relationship with the Risen Lord. Everyone one of us can have that relationship through prayer.
St Paul told Timothy who led the struggling Church of Ephesus, "from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:15-16).
Timothy had a fruitful relationship with the Scriptures because He had an intimate loving relationship with the Lord whom they reveal. If we want to understand the Bible - and have it really change us - we need to grow in the kind of faith Timothy had. That kind of faith will also grow in us as we study the words of Scripture - with faith. The two are connected.
Years ago a gathering of scripture scholars was held in Rome at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. The group encouraged what they called a "kneeling exegesis". Exegesis is a word which refers to the study of the bible. I loved the phrase kneeling exegesis because it speaks to what should be obvious, but sadly is not; only through prayer can we encounter the living Word of God in the written words of the Bible.
The Bible is at the heart of the Church's worship, faith and life. It is the "Book of the Church." Christianity is not about "me and Jesus" but me in Jesus. Through Baptism we come to live in His Body, the Church. We are incorporated into living, Risen Christ when we are baptized into His Church. We become members of His mystical body and we enter into that new Creation, beginning right now.
When God chose to reveal Himself He did not throw a book out of heaven. Rather, the Word was made Flesh. He became one of us. Through the Incarnation - which includes the entirety of the life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ- a new creation began.
The Church is not an organizational afterthought put together after the Resurrection of Jesus. It is the plan of God for the salvation of the entire human race. The Church is the Body of the Risen Christ and the seed of the kingdom to come. Through baptism into His death and resurrection all men and women can become sons (and daughters) in the Son.
The Church is the new family into which we are reborn through the womb of that Baptismal font. This is why we call the Church "Mother". In the Church we live our lives in Him, with one another, for the sake of the world. She is meant to be the home of the whole human race.
God has entrusted the Bible to this Church. It was first received by the early Church in the form of the Old Testament books, the Gospels and the letters of the apostles that were "circulated" (that is what the word "encyclical" means) among the early Christian communities.
Later, the Canon (which means measuring stick), was finalized within the Church. It is intended to govern her life and worship. It is the guide for her in carrying forward the redemptive work of Jesus on earth until He comes again.
The Bible is an invitation into an encounter with the Risen Lord. Its words are not a formula to obtain success in life, but an invitation into a communion of Love with the Living Word. The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, "all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16), the Greek word translated inspired means "God-breathed".
The early Christians received the scriptures as a gift. They knew that the sacred words were to lead to a ...
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