The Church and the Word of God
The Vision of the Catholic Bible Foundation of SA is:
to help people enter into a living and dynamic relationship with
the Word of God, Jesus Christ, through the Word of God in Scripture.
The nature of this relationship is echoed in the opening paragraph of the Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum Domine, 2004.
“Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening” (Lk 24: 29). This was the insistent invitation that the two disciples, journeying to Emmaus on the evening of the day of the resurrection addressed to the Wayfarer, who had accompanied them on their journey. Weighed down with sadness, they never imagined that this stranger was none other than their Master, risen from the dead. Yet they felt their hearts burning within them (cf. v. 32) as he spoke to them and “explained” the Scriptures. The light of the Word unlocked the hardness of their hearts and “opened their eyes” (cf.v.31). Amid the shadows of the passing day and the darkness that clouded their spirit, the Wayfarer brought a ray of light which rekindled their hope and led their hearts to yearn for the fullness of life.
Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the divine companion continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the Mysteries of God.
It is in the Scriptures that we will find meaning for the ups and downs, joys and sorrows of life. It is in the Scriptures that our relationship with Christ will grow and be nurtured. “31With that their eyes were opened and they recognised him, but he vanished from their sight. 32Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us.”
In 1996 Pope John Paul II spoke of the place of the Word in our spirituality; “The Word of God is the first source of all Christian spirituality.” The question is, “Do we believe this or not?” Pope John II makes it quite clear that the Word of God is not the only source of our spirituality, however his words indicate clearly that the Word is the first source. His statement must surely make many of us feel just a little disturbed when we admit that we seldom go to the Scriptures apart from hearing them read at Sunday Mass. Do not be too disturbed. NOW is the time to start. Read, a little; reflect, a little; pray, a little; each day and very soon you will notice the impact the Word is having on your life Even if you do not notice this, those around you will!
John Paul II continues, “The Word of God gives rise to a personal relationship with the living God and with his saving and sanctifying will.” It is this personal relationship that we are all called to.
Holiness, that is, an intimate personal relationship with Jesus is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. (Novo Millennio Ineunto 16) “It is especially necessary that listening to the Word of God should become a life giving encounter … which draws for the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.” It is there, in fact, where the Master reveals himself and educates the mind and the heart: It is there that the vision of faith matures, learning to look at the reality and events of life through the eyes of God, to the point of having ‘the mind of Christ’. 1 Cor 2: 16
The Word of God is nourishment for life, for prayer and for the daily journey. How is it then that we so often forget to expose ourselves to it. As with all nourishment, it is necessary to have our daily intake. The Church has given us a most wonderful gift in the readings of the lectionary. Here we have readings for each day. Do not try to do all the readings. There is far too much to take in at one reading. Remember there is no hurry to get our reading of the bible finished. Start by going to the Word and taking just a little bit for reflection and prayer. The important part about our Journey with the Word, it not how much we read, but, that we start and then continue each day. We do need a help. Having read or heard read the stories are so familiar; they begin to feel like last night’s leftovers. The help we need is for somebody to present us with a fresh and exciting approach – “You did not dish up to us the same old insights that we have heard for the last fifty years.”
This year we are reading the Gospel of Mark. You will find many useful insights in the “New Collegeville Bible Commentary – Mark by Marie Sabin.
Go to the website of Catholic Bible Foundation of SA: www.catholicbible.org.za
Let us take up the Bible! Let us receive it from the Lord who continually offers it to us through his Church. Let us devour it, so that it can become our very life. Let us savour it deeply: it will make demands of us, but it will give us joy because it is sweet as honey. Filled with hope, we will be able to share it with every man and woman whom we encounter on our way. (Ecclesia in Eurpoa 65)