Aperuit Illis 9: Scripture on Scripture

We turn our attention from Emmaus to a strand of advice to Saint Timothy from his mentor. If it rings familiar, it was proclaimed at Mass this weekend:

9. In the Second Letter to Timothy, which is in some ways his spiritual testament, Saint Paul urges his faithful co-worker to have constant recourse to sacred Scripture. The Apostle is convinced that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (3:16). Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is fundamental to the teaching of the conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum on the great theme of biblical inspiration, which emphasizes the Scriptures’ saving purpose, spiritual dimension and inherent incarnational principle.

The Word of God was one of the four most important themes addressed at Vatican II. Well worth reading.

First, recalling Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, Dei Verbum stresses that “we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures” (No. 11). Since the Scriptures teach with a view to salvation through faith in Christ (cf. 2 Tim 3:15), the truths contained therein are profitable for our salvation.

This is a key commentary from Pope Francis:

The Bible is not a collection of history books or a chronicle, but is aimed entirely at the integral salvation of the person. The evident historical setting of the books of the Bible should not make us overlook their primary goal, which is our salvation. Everything is directed to this purpose and essential to the very nature of the Bible, which takes shape as a history of salvation in which God speaks and acts in order to encounter all men and women and to save them from evil and death.

Another important commentary on how God uses a human tradition–that is, language–to further the mission of salvation:

To achieve this saving purpose, sacred Scripture, by the working of the Holy Spirit, makes human words written in human fashion become the word of God (cf. Dei Verbum, 12).

The role of the Holy Spirit is a continuous and persistent one, not confined to a moment of human composition, or of a narrator whispering in a writer’s ear:

The role of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is primordial. Without the work of the Spirit, there would always be a risk of remaining limited to the written text alone. This would open the way to a fundamentalist reading, which needs to be avoided, lest we betray the inspired, dynamic and spiritual character of the sacred text.

Hence, the Bible speaks to people today. God permits history, poetry, teaching, law, and even human conversations and foibles to guide an  individual or community to new insights and a closer relationship with Jesus.

As the Apostle reminds us: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). The Holy Spirit, then, makes sacred Scripture the living word of God, experienced and handed down in the faith of his holy people.

Thoughts?

The full document can be read here. The text reproduced from it is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

About catholicsensibility

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