Truth and Beauty

The Word of God - A Reflection

The Word of God

         John’s gospel, the fourth account about Jesus Christ in the New Testament, starts with: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God ... and the Word was made flesh.” (John 1:1,14).

        The Word of God is Jesus. He is the human face of God and the one who fulfils and gives meaning to all of God’s revelation. The many testimonies of God’s love are brought to a climax in Jesus.

        The Word of God also refers to Jesus’ message – the good news of the Kingdom of God and of salvation – preached by Jesus and after his resurrection by his disciples now empowered through the Holy Spirit (Luke 8:12; Acts 6:7; 12:24).

        The Word of God also includes the inspired writings recognised by the early Christian community – now known to us as the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. As God’s gift to the church, they reveal God’s love for humanity. They embody in human word what is embodied in the divine Word who became flesh. It is through the inspired human words of the Scriptures that one personally encounters the divine Word – Jesus Christ.

        For centuries, Christians have read the Scriptures as God’s Word speaking to them. They learned about their God, God’s loving providence, as well as their own identity and responsibility towards the one who called them to live and share the divine love with others.

        The inspired Word of God reveals the fundamental Christian mysteries, gives us a partial but increasing grasp of them, and shows what is an appropriate response to the divine love. It also makes us realize our limitations, humbles us, and leads us to the conclusion that we cannot fulfil our potential in God without God’s ever present help. We are led to prayer, our lives are transformed in response to God, and as the disciples of Jesus, we then share the divine love shown to us with others.

        An ancient form of meditative, prayerful reading of the Scriptures is called lectio divina. The emphasis in the reading of the inspired texts is on hearing what God wants to tell us and then shaping one’s life accordingly. In other words, care needs to be taken not to read into the Scriptures what we want to hear, but rather letting God speak to us through them.

        This form of Scriptural prayer involves the whole person. Through our senses we read the Scriptures as God’s Word speaking to us. We then meditate on the text using reason and imagination. Finally we pray and transform our lives into Christ’s image through our will with the help of the Holy Spirit.

        The inspired Word of God is more than just a book. It is a library of books composed by many authors over the span of centuries. Despite this fact, there is unity throughout this story of God’s love – accomplished by the Holy Spirit. If we recognize the Scriptures as coming from a loving God, they can be seen as letters from a lover to the beloved. If we reciprocate in love, the inspired texts will mean more and more to us as time goes on and our love relationship with God will continue to deepen.

(Adapted from Lectio Divina, Praying the Scriptures in Lent and Holy Week 2010, written by Bishop David Walker DD, with the support of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Mission and Faith Formation.)  


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