In our last Year of Faith reflection, we touched on the revelation of Jesus Christ entrusted to us in Sacred Scripture. The (CCC) explains that in “order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words…” (101). Scripture is a gift to men and women, for otherwise we would not understand what God so mercifully wants to tell us.
The Church venerates Sacred Scripture as one utterance, one Word from God the Father who speaks lovingly to His children. Although this one Word was written by human authors, all parts of the Old and New Testaments are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit:
"God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted" (, 11).
Now the Christian Church does not take all parts of the Scripture word for word, but understands that, “Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word,’ of God, a word which is ‘not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living’” (CCC, 108):
The Bible is not meant to convey precise historical information or scientific findings to us. Moreover, the authors were children of their time. They shared the cultural ideas of the world around them and often were also dominated by its errors. Nevertheless, everything that man must know about God and the way of his salvation is found with infallible certainty in Sacred Scripture (YOUCAT, 15).
This is why the faithful must look to the Holy Spirit, the interpreter of Scripture, and recognize that there are literal and spiritual senses to what we read. We must pay attention to what the sacred author’s intention is, first being “attentive ‘to the content and unity of the whole Scripture’” (CCC, 112). Second, the Scriptures should be read within the Tradition of the Church, within “the faith that gave rise to them” (YOUCAT, 16). Third, pay attention to the “analogy of faith,” or the “coherence of the truths of faith among themselves” (CCC, 112-114).
There are 46 books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Old Testament, with its prayers and account of salvation history, is venerated as the true Word of God in the Church. Although some books contain imperfect and provisional matters, its books are seen as “divinely inspired and retain a permanent value” (CCC, 121-123).
“The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures,” with their account of the life and teaching of Jesus (CCC, 125-126). The Church affirms the historicity of each of the four Gospels, even though the evangelists were writing the truth about Jesus for different people. She also affirms the importance of reading the New Testament with the Old:
The Church, as early as apostolic times, and then constantly in her Tradition, has illuminated the unity of the divine plan in the two Testaments through typology, which discerns in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son (CCC, 128).
“All Sacred Scripture is but one book, and this one book is Christ” (CCC, 134). If we are to encounter the Word and be changed by Him, then we must turn the pages of His book, and turn them often. Madeleine Delbrêl puts it well:
Through his Word God tells us what he is and what he wants; he says it definitively and says it for each individual day. When we hold our Gospel book in our hands, we should reflect that in it dwells the Word that wants to become flesh in us, desires to take hold of us, so that we might begin his life anew in a new place, at a new time, in a new human setting (YOUCAT, 18).
The Christian faithful are encouraged to engage the Sacred Scriptures, for they nourish us in all that we do and make us holier. If you haven’t already, begin fitting daily Scripture reading into your routine, so that the Word may become flesh in you.
This is our fifth Year of Faith reflection on the here on . See our first post .