Opening the Treasure of Scripture


Opening the Treasure of Scripture (Part I of ?)

I truly loved this bit of commentary from a relatively recent Carmelite Father.

from Nourished by the Word Wilfrid Stinissen

God is the Word. Therefore, the Word resounds in everything he created. But the Word was concentrated when it was spoken to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all of Israel. The Word was concentrated more and more, and received even greater density until it finally became flesh in Jesus Christ. This Word thus has a name; it is a person. There is now no longer any place in the Scriptures where one does not meet Jesus Christ. . . .

Just as we in our life ought constantly to remind ourselves about our origins, that we here and now exist through God's creating Word, so we should also in our Bible-reading let ourselves be taken back by the Spirit to the origin of the Word, to the place where the Word was expressed before it was written down. And the place is the Father who sends the Word, his Son, to be the light and life of all people. When I read the Bible--both the Old and the New Testament--I hear the Father speaking to me, and what he speaks is the Word, Jesus Christ.

(p. 26)

Jesus Christ, word Incarnate, is present in the entire body of the Scriptures. He is more easily perceived where He is more directly talked about, but as Christians we acknowledge his presence throughout the entirety of the Old and New Testaments. God does not speak in vain, but any speech that is not the Word is wasted words. All conversation that does not have as its aim and end the glorification of Jesus Christ, is not speech at all, but as Romano Guardini would have it, mere talk. Now, talk is not necessarily harmful, it helps to create bridges between people and to establish ground for a relationship. But talk is mere words and can lead equally to sin and terrible tragedy. There is no way that the Word can do so. Nor can any thought, conversation, meditation, or action that has as its focus the Word Incarnate.

When we sit down with the Bible, we are inviting God to visit us. If what we read on the page is simply a string of words that tell one of many already familiar story, we waste our time. If what we read on the page is God's gift to us, an inspired love letter that reaches through the ages, and despite what story may be told, touches us and says gently--"You are my beloved child," then we are approaching scripture in something like the manner it deserves.

Reading scripture has multiple purposes. One of these is to become familiar with Jesus Christ, whom we purport to serve and love. I believe Saint Jerome has been quoted as saying, "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." I cannot begin to imagine the quality of my life were I completely ignorant of Jesus Christ. Equally, I cannot begin to imagine the quality of my life if I were intimately familiar with Jesus Christ. Careful, prayerful reading of the scripture is one of the ways in which we become familiar with Jesus. It is not sufficient to listen to the Mass readings. Certainly we should do so, attentively. But we are called to make those readings ours--to internalize them and what they say. Moreover, we are called to make the Person of those Readings our constant abiding companion. We do so more readily when we have at our grasp some definitive knowledge of scripture. I was raised on the magnificent and beautiful King James Version of the Bible. The cadences and echoes of that version seem to me to allow for a better memorization. "Ack!" you say, "memorization? Yuck. Why?" The answer is simply the same reason one has pictures of one's loved ones, or icons. Scripture, is in fact, the only true picture of Jesus we have. If we love an icon for its beauty and that icon puts us in mind of Jesus Christ, that is fine. But if the Jesus it puts us in mind of bears no resemblance to the Man of scriptures, how has the icon helped us? Memorization of scripture, is like carrying a picture of Jesus with you. You tend to memorize those things that speak to you boldly. Sometimes the words of Jesus, "Consider the lilies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon is all of his glory was never arrayed as one of these." Sometimes they are the verbal images given us by Paul, "In my weakness is His strength." "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Whatever we remember, it is a moment away from the grind of work. To think the words of Scripture, is one way to offer back to God the most beautiful and enduring sign of His love for us--the Word.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 17, 2002 8:08 AM.

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