GDC 94: “The word of God: source of catechesis”

Part Two, Chapter I (GDC 94-118) is titled “Norms and criteria for presenting the Gospel message in catechesis”
This chapter leads off with two timely quotes, the Sh’ma Yisrael passage and a short excerpt from the incarnation narrative of John’s Gospel:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Dt 6:4-9).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).

94. The source from which catechesis draws its message is the word of God:

“Catechesis will always draw its content from the living source of the word of God transmitted in Tradition and the Scriptures, for sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the word of God, which is entrusted to the Church”. (Catechesi Tradendae 27)

This “deposit of faith” (Cf. Dei Verbum 10 a e b; cf. 1 Tim 6:20 and 2 Tim 1:14) is like the treasure of a householder; it is entrusted to the Church, the family of God, and she continuously draws from it things new and old. (cf. Mt 13:52) All God’s children, animated by his Spirit, are nourished by this treasure of the Word. They know that the Word is Jesus Christ, the Word made man and that his voice continues to resound in the Church and in the world through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God, by wondrous divine “condescension” (Dei Verbum 13) is directed toward us and reaches us by means of human “deeds and words”, “just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men”. (Dei Verbum 13) And so without ceasing to be the word of God, it is expressed in human words. Although close to us, it still remains veiled, in a “kenotic” state. Thus the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has to interpret the word continually. She contemplates the word with a profound spirit of faith, “listens to [it] devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully”. (Dei Verbum 10)

Drawing heavily on Vatican II and the New Testament, the GDC lays the foundation for what is to come, namely, that catechesis is based on the living Word of God. Not human traditions. Not human documents. What counts is the grace of God, God’s gift of self-revelation and how that is communicated by human words, but also human deeds.

Catechesis is also not a discipline of human history. The Holy Spirit guides us to “continual” interpretation and discernment. To say, “The Church has always taught …” is not precisely grace–it is human history. The Word is meant to be contemplated, to be heard, to be guarded, and to be expounded upon in the situations of the times in which we find ourselves.

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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.
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