From written to living word PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 10:52

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

This is the challenge all of us have to face and tackle. How do we turn the written word of God into the living word that it is and should be?

For sure, the word of God is not just a set of letters, nor an idea, nor a stream of thought, no matter how brilliant they are. It is nothing less than the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity who is the self-knowledge of God himself, perfect, alive and consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit, all of whom form one God.

This truth of our Christian faith may still be confined and languishing in some ivory tower, but we have to understand that it is meant for all of us, and not just to priests, nuns, monks and other consecrated persons. God’s Word (this time with a capital W) is, in fact, the very pattern of our creation, through whom everything is made.

In our case, that is, the case of man, since we have been made in God’s image and likeness and therefore somehow aware and responsible for our own continuing creation, he is sent by the Father to perfect and complete our creation with us cooperating in it.

This perfecting and completing of our creation in Christ involves the re-doing or retreading of our nature wounded by the mess we have made with the abuse of our freedom. Christ is the Word who became man to save us, to bring us back to where we really belong, to offer us the way to recover our lost dignity and reunite us with God.

Christ did this ultimately through his passion, death and resurrection that summarized all that he said and did to save us, and now made alive and always available to us through the Spirit.

This Spirit is now what animates the Church that Christ established. The Spirit makes Christ alive and transmits him vitally to the people of God that is the Church mainly through the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

But the Spirit also transmits the living Christ through the one faith that is authoritatively taught by the hierarchy headed by the Pope and the bishops, successors of Peter and the apostles who were made by Christ as the rock and the pillars of the Church.

This is where the written word of God, or the Sacred Scripture or the Bible, comes to the picture. Together with the living tradition and the power of the Magisterium or teaching office of the Church occupied by the Pope and the bishops, the Sacred Scripture is where we have this faith articulated.

But we have to understand that the Bible, especially the gospel part, is not just a written record of the past. Since it involves Jesus, who is God and man, who is forever alive and redemptive and perfective of us, the Bible just cannot be considered like another book that has a shelf life or expiration date.

The Bible will always be relevant to us as can be gleaned in these words of the Letter to the Hebrews: “The word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edge sword, and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (4,12)

Our attitude toward the Bible, especially the gospel part, should be that it is not just a written word, but a living word. Reading it is listening to Christ in real time. That happens when we read it properly.

Through the ages, saints and holy men and women have developed the techniques of converting the written word into the living word of God. One such method is called the “lectio divina,” that involves several stages.

There’s the “lectio,” which means reading, so we know what the biblical text say in itself. Then “mediatio,” which asks: what does the text say to me? Then comes “oratio,” or prayer, which is what we say to God in response to his word.

As consequences, we have “contemplatio,” which involves a conversion to conform our outlook to God’s vision of reality. Then lastly, “actio,” which should move us to make our life a gift for others in charity.

The “lectio divina” is just one method among many other possibilities for making the written word the living word of God. It also has to be done within the context of the Church’s faith,  liturgy and life itself.