GILM 5: “Christ himself is the center”

Hebrew Scriptures, Christian Scriptures: in liturgy each proclaims the mystery of the second person of the Trinity. And what is that mystery? No less than God’s entire plan of salvation:

5. When in celebrating the Liturgy the Church proclaims both the Old and New Testament, it is proclaiming one and the same mystery of Christ.

The New Testament lies hidden in the Old; the Old Testament comes fully to light in the New. [13] Christ himself is the center and fullness of the whole of Scripture, just as he is of all liturgical celebration. [14] Thus the Scriptures are the living waters from which all who seek life and salvation must drink.

The more profound our understanding of the celebration of the liturgy, the higher our appreciation of the importance of God’s word. Whatever we say of the one, we can in turn say of the other, because each recalls the mystery of Christ and each in its own way causes the mystery to be carried forward.

The principle stated in paragraph two is Augustinian, referenced in Dei Verbum 16. I don’t find that belaboring the point about the interrelation of the Testaments is always helpful. Do Christians find Christian insights in the Hebrew Scriptures? Certainly, we do. As a musician, the psalms are especially important. The monastic tradition of liturgy is even more fully steeped in them. My sense is that by the fruits of the Scriptures we come to know them, and especially we come to know Christ.

Note 14 references that great quote from Saint Jerome:

If, as St. Paul says (I Cor 1:24), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, anyone who is ignorant of the Scriptures is ignorant of the power of God and his wisdom. For ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

When we speak of understanding or appreciating or encountering or not being ignorant of Christ, the Scriptures, and the liturgy, it is not primarily a classroom catechetical event. My own experience is that liturgy is prayed through the Scriptures. If we are open to the experience of prayer, and are willing to break it open, we will find Christ has been with us and his presence abides. The knowledge or awareness we seek are not necessarily rational, but relational. We do not come to know the mystery of Christ, mastering it as we would spelling or physics or changing motor oil.

We experience a mystery. Through it, Christ draws us in to his relationship with the Father, and we are initiated into a world far beyond human understanding. We gain a glimpse. We are given a foothold. In this life at least, we are not ready for the full sight of the divine, or sitting at the left hand or the right hand of God. I find believers do well keeping this in mind. It tends to be a remedy for the urge to tinker with Scriptures or the liturgy. Or on the other hand, to place too much hope in mastering the content of rubrics and Bible studies. The middle way is to simply experience the liturgy with the Word, and to seek for important intersections with the joys, hopes, sorrows, and challenges of life.

The full endnotes are here.

Thoughts, anyone?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in General Introduction to the Lectionary, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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