Thursday, October 9, 2008

Christianity is religion of the "Word"

Bishop Fisichella teaches that we meet Christ in the Scriptures which are, therefore, not merely a book but the "Word" coming from the Father, full of grace and truth. Christianity is not, therefore, one of three supposed "religions of the book" together with Judiasm and Islam. No, Christianity stands alone, unique, as the religion of the "Word" and therefore also of the Scriptures.

"The Dei Verbum had still not been discovered and developed in its great intuition that constituted an authentic dogmatic progress; the Council fathers in fact had recovered the Biblical concept of the uniqueness of the source. This allowed Sacred Scripture to be understood within the life of the Church which does not just live by it but is responsible for its being alive, complete and fruitful.

"Many believers when asked what they mean by “Word of God” reply: the Bible. This is not a wrong answer, but it is incomplete or at least it shows an incomplete perception of the richness present in the expression and leads, as a consequence, to identifying Christianity as the “religion of the book”. It is necessary that in our language we do not fall into the uncertain expression “the three religions of the book”. Christianity is the religion of the “word”. It is important to strive for the construction of a culture that sees sacred Scripture as a living word, dynamically open to the truth of the revelation it contains. If we do not present this teaching in its totality in the various instruments we possess for the training of our people, we risk humiliating the Word of God because we reduce it exclusively to a written text without the provocative force to bring meaning to life any longer. As the Apostle reminds us: “God’s message cannot be chained up” (2 Tm 2:9).

"What we are always faced with is the inexhaustibility of the Word of God; it is like the bush that burns without going out. We are called to exercise a ministry that permits this Word of Life to spread so that everyone in every part of the world can grasp its profound meaning in such a way as to obtain salvation. In a time like ours filled with attempts to marginalize the sacred texts as bearers of meaning only insofar as they are myths , with no historical character and destined only for the naïve, it is important that they find the necessary forms to restore historical value and provocativeness about the sense of existence. We really are faced with a teaching emergency that brings back to the center of our life of faith the theme of salvation. Again Dei Verbum reminds us how much has been transmitted and written on the “salvation announcement” (DV 7). The various cultural tendencies present in the modern world have not only perverted the meaning of salvation but they have marginalized it as useless and illusionary. Representing the Word of God in its totality means pointing the scope of its teaching towards the theme of our salvation."

-- H.E. Most. Rev. Salvatore FISICHELLA, Titular Bishop of Voghenza, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Summary of intervention given Tuesday afternoon, October 7, at the fourth general congregation of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26. The theme of the assembly is on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." (VATICAN CITY)

(Photo: Bishop Fisichella, center, with Fr McFadden and Fr Hughes after delivering a lecture at Scots College in Rome.)

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