Summary: This homily is largely identical to the previous week's, which I did not get to deliver. The relationship between the spiritual gifts and the deposit of faith in Scripture
Monday of 30th Week in Course
St. Anthony Mary Claret
The early Church, built on the immediate remembrance of Pentecost, was “charismatic” in the best sense. That is, the spiritual gifts, interior and exterior, characterized the relationships between the Christian, the assembly, and God. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, emphasized that all the gifts–healing, tongues, interpretation, prophecy and the like–had to be exercised in good order. But when they were, the power of the Church to attract pagans and Jews alike to true worship was astonishing. Because all who are led–truly led–by the Spirit of God are acting like the Word of God, Jesus Christ, and obeying the will of the Father. That will, which makes us truly human and incipiently divine, is for us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves–even more–as Christ loved us.
But Christ’s presence must endure, and must constantly renew the Church. For that reason, we have the divine gifts of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition–constant reminders to us that every generation, indeed every person, must repent and believe the Gospel.
In Verbum Domini, Benedict tells us “the Church is built upon the word of God; she is born from and lives by that word. Throughout its history, the People of God has always found strength in the word of God, and today too the [Church] grows by hearing, celebrating and studying that word. It must be acknowledged that in recent decades ecclesial life has grown more sensitive to this theme, particularly with reference to Christian revelation, the living Tradition and sacred Scripture.” We can say with historians that after the Council of Trent, the Church, in a reforming mode, and a reactive one, went back to St. Thomas Aquinas as a kind of original source. This was not wrong, but in reacting to the Protestant doctrine of “scripture alone,” Catholics swung far in the other direction. We didn’t ignore Scripture, but we in a way treated it as a secondary support for our faith. During the twentieth century, Catholic exegesis grew exponentially. It still owes too much to the Protestant Tubingen school–teaching, for instance, that Mark’s was the first gospel written. But we have made great strides in scholarship and devotional writing based on Scripture, and even understand Thomas Aquinas better now that we understand the Bible better.
With the document Dei Verbum of Vatican II, even further progress is made. It “represented a milestone in the Church’s history.” Since the sixties, we have seen “a growing awareness of the “trinitarian and salvation-historical horizon of revelation” against which Jesus Christ is to be acknowledged as “mediator and fullness of all revelation” To each generation the Church unceasingly proclaims that Christ “completed and perfected revelation. Everything to do with his presence and his self-manifestation was involved in achieving this: his words and works, signs and miracles, but above all his death and resurrection from the dead, and finally his sending of the Spirit of truth”
The 2008 Synod intended to move even further along this trajectory, so that the Church might be further enriched by an understanding and appreciation of Sacred Scripture. And it led to an increasing understanding that the Bible is the Church’s book. The New Testament came out of the Church, not vice-versa.
The Holy Father took two guides during the Synod and during the composition of Verbum Domini. The first is St. Paul, whose theology shaped the development of the Church and her doctrine, especially our understanding of the OT. The second is the prologue to John’s Gospel, and the critical line–to which we continue to bow or kneel–et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis–“and the word was made flesh, and pitched his tent among us.” We have to understand that the Revelation of Christ is the key event in our salvation history. The Word of God is not a dead letter, but a living person. That living person is with us and in us, especially through the proclamation of the Gospel and the re-presentation of His sacrifice in the Mass.
Following the example of the Apostle John and the other inspired authors, may we allow ourselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to an ever greater love of the word of God.