FIYH 53-54: Getting Behind The Scriptures

The bishops suggest the Scriptures be used not as cover, but as real words God speaks to real people:

[53] To preach from the Scriptures in this way means that we have to get behind them,” as it were. We have to hear these texts as real words addressed to real people. Scholarly methods of interpreting Scripture can help us do this by putting us in touch with the life situations that originated these texts, or by making us more aware of the different ways language can function as a conveyer of meaning. But scholarly methods are not enough. As we emphasized in the second chapter, the preacher needs to listen to these texts meditatively and prayerfully.

This is a suitable balance, don’t you think? Scholarship is indeed far from enough. And a preacher who relies on intellect rather than prayer and knowledge of the assembly is failing miserably.

[54] As preachers we go to the Scriptures saying, “What is the human situation to which these texts were originally addressed? To what human concerns and questions might these same texts have spoken through the Church’s history? What is the human situation to which they can speak today? How can they help us to understand, to interpret our lives in such a way that we can turn to God with praise and thanksgiving?” Only when we approach the Scriptures in this way do they have any possibility of becoming a living word for us and for others.

Even the Scriptures themselves were written for a human situation in the past. That others later found benefit is a credit to the inspiration of the texts, but it gives us the needed perspective and reminder that those very texts were rooted in human spiritual needs. Much the same needs are present today in any liturgical assembly. The preacher might see the homily as a continuation of this tradition, don’t you think?

(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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