Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Optimism or Hope?

It’s quite amusing to read Thomas Friedman’s assessment of “rebooting” the United States. It reminds me of another article posted here on December 14 reporting the thoughts of leaders of the World Bank on how to restart the global economy.

The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday December 10, 2008, B3) ran the following: “It is not just a supply shock,’ Mr. Timmer said. ‘It is not just a reduction in demand, but it is the lack of availability of credit.’ Deutsche Bank, in a forecast issued this week was even more pessimistic. It said global growth would drop to 0.2 percent in 2009, with the United States, Europe, and Japan in recessions of roughly equal severity."

It continued: “China, which grew 11.9 percent in 2007, will slow to 7 percent next year, the bank projects, and 6.6 percent in 2010, when the rest of the world is slowly recovering. It’s not going to be the spark that reignites global demand,’ said Thomas Mayer, the chief European economist for Deutsche Bank. ‘We’re almost in an air pocket, where we don’t have a new global driver of growth.”

Today (December 24, 2008), Thomas Friedman says:
“Our present crisis is not just a financial meltdown crying out for a cash injection. We are in much deeper trouble. IN fact, we as a country have become General Motors – as a result of our national drift. Look in the mirror: G.M. is us.

“That’s why we don’t just need a bailout. We need a reboot. We need a build out. We need a buildup. We need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history. Because of the financial crisis, Barack Obama has the bipartisan support to spend $1 trillion in stimulus. But we must make certain that every bailout dollar, which we’re borrowing from our kids’ future, is spent wisely.”(NYT Wednesday, December 24, 2008, A 25).

Friedman then goes on to enumerate how stimulus dollars should go into teachers, educating scientists and engineers, research, productivity enhancing infra-structure – and not into pork. He estimates that
“America still has the right stuff to thrive. We still have the most creative, diverse, innovative culture and open society…”

But, is that true? And notice the materialistic mind-set that he exposes. The key will be the money that could be spent. But in his estimation, it must be spent in the right direction; that if it is spent on the right educational “stuff,” our culture has the imagination and the generating power of new ideas to restart scientific and technological “progress” in the direction of new “change.” And, therefore, prosperity and world-leadership.

The Distinction Between “Progress” and ‘Hope”

In re-reading Ratzinger’s “To Look on Christ – Exercises in Faith, Hope, and Love,” his struggle with the discrepancy between “optimism” and “hope” stands out in my mind. Ratzinger’s relationship with Ernst Bloch (theoretical Marxist) moved him to the following reflection:

“It dawned on me as the result of this reading that ‘optimism’ is the theological virtue of a new god and a new religion, the virtue of deified history, of a god ‘history,’ and thus of the great god of modern ideologies and their promise. This promise is utopia, to be realized by means of the ‘revolution,’ which for its part represents a kind of mythical godhead, as it were a ‘God the son’ in relation to the ‘God the father’ of history. … Corresponding to this is the fact that in the new religion ‘pessimism’ is the sin of all sins, for to doubt optimism, progress, utopia is a frontal attack on the spirit of the modern age: it is to dispute its fundamental creed on which its security rests, even though this is always under threat in view of the weakness of the sham god of history.”

Ratzinger then goes into the indignation that “The Ratzinger Report” sparked because it was considered “pessimistic.”
“In many places efforts were made to stop its being sold, because a heresy of this magnitude simply could not be tolerated. The molders of public opinion placed it on the index of forbidden books: the new inquisition let its strength be felt. It showed once again that there is no worse sin against the spirit of the age than to show oneself lacking in optimism. It was not at all a question whether what was claimed was true or false, whether the diagnosis was correct or not: I have not been aware of people taking the time to investigate such old-fashioned questions. The criterion was quite simple: ‘Is it optimistic or not?’ – and it completely failed this test…. The dogma of progress seemed to be called into question. With the rage that only sacrilege can call forth, people let fly at this denial of the god of history. And its promises.”

The Point? To understand the true nature of Christian hope and see through its ersatz imitations and distortions that are a surrogate for it.

The Ontological Meaning of Christian Hope: There is an ontological tendency that is the human person imaging the divine Relation that is the Son of God, the Logos.
[1] Once affirmed by divine Grace (which is divine Love) that is received in Baptism as sacrament or desire, the “I” of the human person is able to exercise the freedom of self mastery in the pilgrimage of self-giving that is the beginning of eternal life now in this world. This “progress” in self-giving is the “Christogenesis” of the human person as image and son of God. One is on the way to becoming “another Christ.”

The meaning of the “Kingdom of God” is the Person of Christ himself: “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Lk. 11, 20). The Kingdom of God is the Person of Christ Who becomes instantiated in the baptized, such that “there is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3, 28). Consult Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth” for his assessment of Origen: “Jesus himself is the Kingdom; the Kingdom is not a thing, it is not a geographical dominion like worldly kingdoms. It is a person; it is he. On this interpretation, the term ‘Kingdom of God’ is itself a veiled Christology… The Kingdom of God is not to be found on any map. It is not a kingdom after the fashion of worldly kingdoms; it is located in man’s inner being. It grows and radiates outward from that inner space.”

Ratzinger clarifies that the goal of optimism is the development of an external historical society through evolution and technology. He writes that “The goal of optimism is the utopia of the finally and everlastingly liberated and fortunate world, the perfect society in which history reaches its goal and reveals its divinity. The immediate aim… is the success of our ability to do things. The goal of Christian hope is the kingdom of God that is the union of world and man with God through an act of divine power and love.”[3]

He then concludes that “The internal justification for optimism is the logic of history, which goes its own way and presses forward irrevocably towards its goal: the justification of Christian hope is the incarnation of God’s word and love in Jesus Christ.”

Expatiating on the above: “The goal of the ideologies is finally and ultimately success, in which we are able to realize our own wishes and plans. Our own ability and activity on which we are betting is however aware that ultimately it is guided and confirmed by an irrational fundamental tendency of development; the dynamic of progress means that everything ultimate becomes all right, as I was told recently by a physicist who regarded himself as important when I had the temerity to utter doubts about some modern techniques for handling nascent human life. The aim of Christian hope, by contrast, is a gift, the gift of love, which is given us beyond all our activity…

“But this means that the product of the promise of optimism is something that we must ultimately produce ourselves, trusting that the blind process of development in connection with out own activity will finally lead to the right goal. The gift of the promise of hope, on the other hand, is precisely that, a gift that as something already bestowed we await from him who alone can really give: the God who in the midst of history has already begun his age through Jesus. This in turn means that in the first case there is in reality nothing to hope for, because what we are awaiting we must bring about ourselves, and nothing will be given us beyond what we can achieve ourselves.”

[1] Cf. Ratzinger’s “Conscience and Truth” in On Conscience Ignatius (2007) 32.
[2] Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth” Doubleday (2007) 49-50.
[3] J. Ratzinger, “To Look on Christ – Exercises in Faith, Hope, and Love, Crossroad (1991) 46-47.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid 48.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Human Person Matures Through Work


1) Work as “objective”
2) Work as “subjective” – the anthropology of self-determination
a) the need for self-mastery
b) the need for affirmation by another
c) texts of John Paul II on the subjective meaning of work
3) The philosophy of self-determination -
4) Conclusion: only persons work.
5) The giftedness of work shows in quality. This builds faith and trust = the economy
6) The Working Person as Key to the Future Culture

1) Genesis: Work as “Objective: transformation of things: Work is a free human act. It consists in subduing the earth and making it one’s own. The act of subduing the earth changes it. John Paul II calls this work in the “objective” sense.” He clarifies that most of this work is not manual but technological where the machine seems to do the “work.” But in reality there is always a supervising protagonist of intelligence and intention that is always the principal agent of doing it. This supervising protagonist is the “subject.”

2) a- Work as “Subjective:” transformation of self: But man is a created being who must master himself since he is taken from the earth. To own himself, and therefore, to be himself, he must master himself in order to perform any action that is going to be properly “his.” This is the deep meaning of freedom. In order for any action to be properly “his” and ultimately “him,” there must be a strenuous effort to “gather up” all the cosmic forces that clamor from below, be it laziness, sexual urge, hunger, vanity, ego gratification, etc. and direct them by reason and will. To be free, one must be able to decide about oneself.

b- Last month, we saw the need for affirmation by another, that the self had the absolute need to be related to by the affirmation of another that is love. We talked about the process of Adam’s “original solitude” because he had become a “subject” different from the animals. He had crossed the threshold between subject and object. We saw it developed in Ratzinger, in Pieper and Conrad Baars, exemplified in Helen Keller and attested to by Richard Rohr and rendered ascetically by St. Josemaria Escriva and John Paul II. We talked about affirmed persons, and unaffirmed persons.

c- Text of John Paul II on the Subjective Meaning of Work:

“Man has to subdue the earth and dominate it, because as a the ‘image of God’ he is a person, that is to say, a subjective being capable of acting in a planned and rational way, capable of deciding about himself, and with a tendency to self-realization.

[This sentence contains the entire point. To be “capable” is to have been affirmed as a person and therefore able to turn upon oneself. Without that receptive affirmation (love), the "I" is not activated to master itself. The experience of this does not belong just to faculties of intellect and will. It is the whole person deciding about self with sentiment, feeling, fear, truth, past weaknesses, etc. ]

“As a person, man is therefore the subject of work. As a person he works, he performs various actions belonging to the work process: independently of their objective content, these actions must all serve to realize his humanity, to fulfill the calling to be a person that is his by reason of his very humanity…
“And so this ‘dominion’ spoken of in the biblical text being meditated upon here refers not only to the objective dimension of work but at the same time introduces us to an understanding of its subjective dimension. Understood as a process whereby man and the human race subdue the earth, work corresponds to this basic biblical concept only when throughout the process man manifests himself and confirms himself as the one who dominates.’ This dominion, in a certain sense, refers to the subjective dimension even more than to the objective one: this dimension conditions the very ethical nature of work. In fact there is no doubt that human work has an ethical value of it is own, which clearly and directly remains linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a person, a conscious and free subject, that is to say, a subject that decides about himself.”

3) The Philosophical Account of Gaudium et Spes #24: Karol Wojtyla: “When I am directed by an act of will toward a particular value, I myself not only determine this directing, but through it I simultaneously determine myself as well. The concept of self-determination involves more than just the concept of efficacy: I am not only the efficient cause of my acts, but through them I am also in some sense the ‘creator of myself.’ Action accompanies becoming [of me], moreover, action is organically linked to becoming. Self-determination, therefore, and not just the efficacy of the personal self, explains the reality of moral values [i.e. when you determine yourself to go out of yourself in service to another, you experience the value “good” because you are making yourself “good.”]: it explains the reality that by my actions I become ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and that then I am also ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as a human being – as St. Thomas so eminently perceived. If we were to stop at an analysis of the will as an intentional act, acknowledging only its horizontal transcendence, then this realism of moral values, this good and evil in the human being, would be completely inexplicable.”[2]

That is, when you do what conscience tells you what is “good,” and you do it, you become “good.” You have an experience of the good as your very self. The will points us outward toward an “object.” Self-determination points inward toward the subject. When we choose the good toward which conscience points us, we become ontologically good or bad in our subjective "I." The "good" of conscience [that comes from the ontological tendency of our created being impinging on consciousness] becomes the ontological reality of "I." We become "good" and therefore can love self "unselfishly." In this we have the whole psychology of the affirmed person: "The know who they are. They are certain of their identity. They love themselves unselfishly. The are open to all that is good and find joy in the same. They are able to affirm all of creatoin, and as affirmers of all beings are capable of making others happy and joyful, too. They are largely other-directed. They find joy in being and doing for others. They find joy in their loving relationship with their Creator. The can share and give of themselves, be a true friend to others, and feel at ease with persons of both sexes. They are capable of finding happiness in marriage or the freely chosen celibate state of life. They are free from psycho-pathological factors which hamper one';s free will and are therefore fully responsible - morally and legally - for their actions" (Conrad Baars, M.D., "I Will Give Them a New Heart" St. Pauls (2008) 190)

4- Conclusion: Only persons work, and this because only persons are capable of determining self and making the gift of self.[3] Self determination is something we all experience that has its root in imaging God. The prototype is Christ who, as divine Person, masters His human will and obeys to death. He gathers himself, owns himself and makes the gift of himself to the Father for us. That is the prototypical meaning of “work.”

Therefore, only persons work since they are the only ones who are subjects who can master self, take possession of self and make the gift. Therefore, animals do not work. Machines do not work. “Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.”[4]

5- Work as Gift: Quality

The gift that work must give is the very self. The sign of the giftedness of work is its “quality.” Since the work must be a free creative act, the quality of the work is the sign of the presence of the subject. Consider the remarks of John Paul II in this regard:

“In producing a work, artists express themselves to the point where their work becomes a unique disclosure of their own being, of what they are and of how they are what they are. And there are endless examples of this in human history. In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture.”[1]
[1] John Paul II, “Letter to Artists,” #2.

Quality, as sign of the presence of the person of the artist, inspires trust and confidence on the receiver or consumer. Absent that quality, absent the consumer and, consequently, the decline in the economy. Witness the state of the United States automobile industry in the face of quality built into the Japanese and German cars. Consider, also, the example of the CEO of Hollister Corp. who said: “Our business is to serve customers, both inside and outside. We do not exist to make a profit. This is not an end, but a means by which we can continue as a strong, independently owned company. Our business purpose is to serve our customers and the community as a whole. We’ll serve them with products that are innovative and more efficacious than those offered by our competitors. Quality is delivery of increasingly higher levels of service to our customers. Hollister will also be more personal as a working environment because all associates will be serving one another in a way that creates a sense of community similar to the sense of family that existed when Mr. Schneider was running a smaller company…. In my vision, Hollister associates are person in relationships of service to one another. They’re all untied in a common cause, each contributing his or her indispensable work, well done, so that the individual efforts add up to a collective world-class result.”[6]

Witness, also, the psychological state of any person speaking or performing artistically in public. If one is gift, all is ease, reasonable and creative. If one is turned back on self, self-confidence erodes and disappears. I refer you to the “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde (Vintage, 1983) for the development of this idea in the folkloric of world history.

6- The Working Person as Key to the Future Culture

Consider that Communism and Capitalism are two abstractions of the working person (finding self by gift of self: GS #24). Capitalism seems to have vanquished Communism on an economic level. But as Benedict XVI says:

“The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem, and left untreated, it can lead to the self-destruction of the European [American] conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger…”

Consider also the assessment of John Paul II on Capitalism: "Can it perhaps be said that, after the failure of Communism, capitalism is the victorious social system, and that capitalism should be the goal of the countries now making efforts to rebuild their economy and society? Is this the model which ought to be proposed to the countries of the Third World which are searching for the path to true economic and civil progress?... If by 'capitalism' is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a 'business economy,' 'market economy' or simply 'free economy.' But if by 'capitalism' is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the servicie of human freedom in its totality and sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.
"The Marxist solution has failed, but the realities of marginalization and exploitation remain in the world, especially the Third World, as does the reality of human alienation, especially in the more advanced countries. Against these phenomena the Church strongly raises her voice. Vast multitudes are still living in conditions of great material and moral poverty... The collapse of the Communist system in so many countries certainly removes an obstacle to facing these problems in an appropriate and realistic way, but it is not enough to bring about their solution. Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their soluton to the free development of market forces.
"The Church has no models to present... The integral development of the human person through work does not impede but rather promotes the greater productivity and efficiency of work iteslf, even though it may weaken consolidated power structures. A business cannot be considered only as a 'society of capital goods;' it is also a 'society of persons' in which people participate in different ways and with specific responsibilities, whether they supply the necessary capital for the company's activities or take part in such activities through their labor..." (John Paul II "Centesimus Annus 42.1, 42,2; 42,3; 43,1; 43,2).

What is the answer? The working person. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) teaches in its 2nd Document on Liberation Theology:

“The culture which our age awaits will be marked by the full recognition of the dignity of human work, which appears in all its nobility and fruitfulness in the light of the mysteries of creation and redemption. Recognized as an expression of the person, work becomes a source of creative meaning and effort (82)

“Thus the solution of most of the serious problems related to poverty is to be found in the promotion of a true civilization of work. In a sense, work is the key to the whole social question (83).

“It is therefore in the domain of work that priority must be given to the action of liberation in freedom. Because the relationship between the human person and work is radical and vital, the forms and models according to which this relationship is regulated will exercise a positive influence for the solution of a whole series of social and political problems facing each people. Just work relationships will be a necessary pre-condition for a system of political community capable of favoring the integral development of every individual… (83)

“A work culture such as this will necessarily presuppose and put into effect a certain number of essential values. It will acknowledge that the person of the worker is the principle, subject and purpose of work. It will affirm the priority of work over capital [true “capitalism”] and the fact that material goods are meant for all [true “socialism’]. It will be animated by a sense of solidarity involving not only rights to be defended but also the duties to be performed. It will involve participation, aimed at promoting the national and international common good and not just defending individual or corporate interests. It will assimilate the methods of confrontation and of frank and vigorous dialogue…. (84)

“A culture which recognizes the eminent dignity of the worker will eiphasize the subjective dimension of work.

“The value of any human work does not depend on the kind of work done; it is based on the fact that the one who does it is a person” (85).

[1] John Paul II, “Laborem Exercens,” #6.
[2] K. Wojtyla “The Personal Structure of Self-Determination,” Person and Community Lang (1993) 191-192.
[3] Gaudium et spes #24: “He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself.”

[4] Laborem Exercens. DSP p. 5.
[5] John Paul II, “Letter to Artists,” #2.
[6] Michael Winn, “The President’s Vision.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"As Trust Dissolves Before Our Eyes" - Linda Chavez

Larry Kudlow erupted Vesuvian like on me when I read from Joseph Ratzinger’s “The Future of the World Economy”[1] that market-supply-side economics “are not universally valid.” Ratzinger quoted from Peter Koslowski that “Economics is not only ruled by economic laws, but controlled by people…’ He went on to comment that “Even though free enterprise relies on individuals following a particular set of rules it cannot dispense with the individual; it cannot banish his moral freedom from the world of economics. It is becoming increasingly clear that the development of the world economy also involves the development of the world community, of the universal family of man, and that the development of the spiritual dimension of man is an essential component in the development of the world community. The spiritual dimension of man is also a factor in the economy: free enterprise can function only with the help of an underlying moral consensus.”

An essential component of that consensus is the consciousness of the existence and presence of God. The same Ratzinger assesses that “The Communist systems collapsed under the weight of their own fallacious economic dogmatism. Commentators have nevertheless ignored all too readily the role played by the Communists’ contempt for human rights and their subordination of morals to the demands of the system and the promise of a future. The greatest catastrophe encountered by such systems was not economic. It was the starvation of souls and the destruction of the moral conscience.”

“The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the Communist economy has been recognized, its moral and religious fallacy has not been addressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem, and left untreated, it can lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger –above and beyond the decline predicted by Spengler.”

To those who consider remarks like these to be out of line with the autonomy of economics, and who is trying to make sense of the present malaise that has emerged from within our midst, I offer some remarks of Lind Chavez which appeared yesterday in the N.Y. Post.
[3] She was commenting on the Madoff extravaganza of alluring 50 billion dollars out of the pockets of his friends. She wonders rhetorically, “How could so many savvy people be duped by the oldest trick in the book?” Her response: “But they trusted Madoff because many of them knew him personally…

“What fools, you say? I’d never hand over my money without checking the guy out. In fact, we do hand over our money, figuratively and literally, every day without hesitating. And we do so because we trust individuals, institutions, and our government. Trust is what makes the economic world go round.”

She then quotes from Niall Ferguson’s “The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World:” “When an American exchanges his goods or his labor for a fistful of dollars, he is essentially trusting … Hank Paulson … not to … manufacture so many of these things that they end up being worth no more than the paper they are printed on…

“Money is a matter of belief, even faith: belief in the person paying us; belief in the person issuing the money he uses or the institution that honors his checks or transfers. Money is… trust inscribed.”

"And once trust breaks down, the system itself collapses. What is worrisome in today’s troubled economy is that trust seems to be dissolving before our eyes.

"Why have banks stopped lending? Why are people pulling their money out of the stock market, driving down the Dow and NASDAQ? Why are people afraid to buy houses? It all boils down to trust.

"Banks don’t trust that debtors – companies, individuals, even other banks – will pay back the money they lend, so they stop lending. Investors don’t trust that companies will be able to earn profits in the near future, so they stop investing. Ordinary people don’t trust that the home they buy will be worth what they paid for it in a year or even a few months, so they hesitate buying.

"This breakdown in trust feeds on itself. Distrust becomes self-perpetuating and contagious.

"The challenge will be how best to restore trust – and to do so in ways that do not jeopardize freedom or the efficiencies of the market."

This is a perfect example of reason becoming unreasonable without faith. The question is, repeating the observation of Ratzinger: “The essential problem of our times, for Europe and for the world, is that although the fallacy of the Communist economy has been recognized, its moral and religious fallacy has not been addressed. The unresolved issue of Marxism lives on: the crumbling of man’s original uncertainties about God, himself, and the universe. The decline of a moral conscience grounded in absolute values is still our problem, and left untreated, it can lead to the self-destruction of the European conscience, which we must begin to consider as a real danger…”

[1] Catholicism in Crisis/March 1986 23.
[2] Pope Benedict XVI, First Things 159 (January 2006) 20. Cf. also Ratzinger’s “Europe Today and Tomorrow,” Ignatius (2007) 29-30.
[3] Saturday, December 20, 2008, p. 23

4th Sunday of Advent

Second Reading: "Elizabeth says: Blessed are you because you have believed.

You also are blessed because you have heard and believed. A soul that believes both conceives and brings forth the Word of God...

"Let Mary's soul be in each of you to proclaim the greateness of the Lord. Let her spirit be in each to rejoice in the Lord. Christ has only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith" (Saint Ambrose commenting on Luke 2, 19 etc.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cardinal Marc Ouellet: Convocatio, Communio, Missio


INTRODUCTION« To the angel of the Church in Smyrna write : 'These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again… Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches » (Rev 2:8,10-11).
We are united in the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to listen to what the Spirit says to today's Churches concerning « the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church ». We share the conviction of the Fathers of the Church, expressed by Saint Caesar of Arles that « the light of the soul and its eternal nourishment are none other than the Word of God, without which the soul cannot rejoice in its light nor in its life; our body dies, for the lack of absorbing food; in the same way, our soul perishes, for the lack of the Word of God ».[1]
The goal of the Synod is primarily a pastoral and missionary one. It consists in, together, listening to the Word of God to discern how the Spirit and the Church aspire to respond to the gift of the Word made flesh through the love of the Holy Scriptures and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God to all humanity. Let us make Saint Paul's prayer ours, which plunges us to the heart of the mystery of the Revelation:
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Eph 3:14-21).
The Synod will propose pastoral orientations to « reinforce the practice of the encounter with the Word of God as the source of life », in focusing on the point of the reception of Vatican Council II regarding the Word of God in its relationship with renewed ecclesiology, ecumenism and dialogue with nations and religions. Apart from the theoretical discussions, we are invited to embrace the Council's attitude : « Hearing the word of God with reverence and proclaiming it with faith, the sacred synod takes its direction from these words of St. John: 'We announce to you the eternal life which dwelt with the Father and was made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we announce to you, so that you may have fellowship with us and our common fellowship be with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ' (1 Jn 1:2-3) » (DV 1).Thanks to the Trinitarian and Christocentric vision of Vatican Council II, the Church renewed consciousness in its own mystery and mission. The Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, and the pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, develop an ecclesiology of communion that relies on the renewed concept of Revelation. In fact, the dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum marked a real turning point in the manner of dealing with Divine Revelation. Instead of privileging, as before, the noetic dimension of truths to be believed in, the Council Fathers emphasized the dynamic and dialogic accent [2] of Revelation as personal self-communication of God. Thus they put down the bases for a more vivid encounter and dialogue between God who calls and His people who respond.This turning point was vastly welcomed as a decisive fact by theologians, exegetes and pastors.[3] However, one generally recognizes the fact that the Constitution Dei Verbum was not sufficiently received and that the turning point still has not achieved all the fruits desired and expected in the life and mission of the Church.[4] Taking into account the progress to date, the question should be: why has the model of personal communication [5] not penetrated the Church's conscience, prayer, and pastoral practices as well as the theological and exegetical method? The Synod should propose concrete solutions to bridge the lacunae and find a remedy to the ignorance of the Scriptures which adds to today's difficulties in evangelization.
We must recognize, in fact, that the life of faith and the missionary impulse of Christians are deeply affected by the socio-cultural phenomena such as secularization, religious pluralism, globalization and the explosion in means of communication, with consequences like: primarily the growing gap between rich and poor, the blossoming of esoteric sects, the threats to peace, without forgetting the actual assaults against human life and family.[6]
To these phenomena, we must add the Church's internal difficulties dealing with the transmission of faith in the family, the weaknesses in catechetical formation, the tensions between the ecclesial Magisterium and university level theology, the internal crisis of exegesis and its relationship with theology, and in a more general way «a similar separation sometimes exists between biblical scholars and the pastors and everyday people of the Christian community » (IL 7a).
The Synod must face this great challenge of the transmission of faith in the Word of God today. In a pluralistic world, marked by relativism and esoterism, [7] even the notion of Revelation poses questions [8] and calls for clarification.Convocatio, communio, missio. Around these three keywords that translate the triple dimension (dynamic, personal and dialogic) of Christian Revelation, we will show the thematic structure of the Instrumentum laboris. The Word of God convokes, it activates communion with God's plan through obedience to faith and sends the chosen people towards nations. This Word of Covenant culminates in Mary, who embraces the Word made flesh in faith, the Desired one of nations. We will return to the three dimensions of the Word of Covenant as the Holy Spirit incarnated them in the history of salvation, the Holy Scriptures and ecclesial Tradition.
We ask the Holy Spirit to amplify this desire to rediscover the Word of God, ever new and never old. This Word has the power to « return to the world », to rejuvenate the Church and to incite new hope in view of the mission. Benedict XVI reminded us that this great hope is based on the certitude that « God is Love » [9] and that « in Christ, God manifested himself » [10] for the salvation of all.I. CONVOCATIO : IDENTITY OF THE WORD OF GODA. GOD SPEAKS« In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum » (Jn 1:1s). To begin, we must start from the Mystery of a God that speaks, a God who is Himself the Word and gives himself to be known by humanity in many ways (Heb 1:1). Thanks to the Bible, humanity knows it has been called upon by God ; the Spirit helps it to listen and welcome the Word of God, thus becoming the Ecclesia, the community assembled by the Word. This community of faithful receives its identity and its mission from the Word of God that founds it, nourishes it and engages it to the service of the Kingdom of God.[11]Let us clarify from the start the many meanings of the Word of God. John's prologue offers the highest and most embracing perspective to bring about these clarifications. With the term Logos, the evangelist designated a transcendental reality that was with God and that is God himself. This Logos is « with God, and the Word was God. » (Jn 1:1) in the beginning, in other words before all things, in God himself ( ). The end of the prologue points out the divine, personal nature of the Logos with these words : « No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known » (Jn 1:18).
In his letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians, Saint Paul expresses the Mystery of Christ, the Word of God, in more or less the same way : « He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by him and for him. » (Col 1:15-16). In his plan for salvation, God wanted « to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory » (Eph 1:10-12).B. THE NEW AND ETERNAL WORD OF COVENANT, JESUS CHRISTThe Word of God therefore means, in the first place, God Himself who speaks, who expresses in Himself a Divine Word belonging to his intimate mystery. This Divine Word gives origin to all things, because « without him nothing was made that has been made » (Jn 1:3). He mentions many languages, more specifically the language of material creation, of life and of the human being. « In him was life, and that life was the light of men » (Jn 1:4). He also speaks in a particular and even dramatic way about the history of man, through the choosing of a people, through the Law of Moses and the Prophets.Finally, after having spoken of the many ways (cf. Heb 1:1), He summarises everything and crowns it all in unique, perfect and definitive way in Jesus Christ. «Et Verbum caro factum est er habitavit in nobis» (Jn 1:14). The Mystery of the Divine Word made flesh is the core of the prologue and all of the New Testament. « For this reason Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself: through His words and deeds, His signs and wonders, but especially through His death and glorious resurrection from the dead and final sending of the Spirit of truth. Moreover He confirmed with divine testimony what revelation proclaimed, that God is with us » (DV 4).
The Word of God, witnessed by Scripture, consequentially has different forms and harbors different levels of meaning. She shows God Himself who speaks, His Divine Word, His creative and saving Word, and finallyHis Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, « the mediator and the fullness of all revelation » (DV 2). For Luke, the Word of God is identified also with the oral teachings of Jesus (Lk 5:1-3), as can be seen in the Paschal Message, the kerygma, which, through the apostles' preaching, « grows and multiplies » in keeping with a living organism (Acts 12:24). This Word of God, one and multiple, dynamic and eschatological, personal and filial, lives and enlivens the Church through faith. She is deposited in the Holy Scriptures as a historical and literary witness, as the sacred repository destined to all humanity. Hence this new and decisive modality of the Word of God, the sacred text, the written form that the people of Israel held as testimony of the first Covenant. Hence also, the Writings of the New Testament that the Church received, in turn, from the Holy Spirit and Apostolic Tradition, Scriptures, she considers as norms and definitive to her life and mission.
Briefly, the written or transmitted Word of God is a word of dialogue and also trinitarian. Offered to man in Jesus Christ to introduce him to trinitary communion and to find his full identity. According to John's prologue, this personal Word of God calls to humanity and immediately poses the question of reception : « But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God » (Jn 1 :12).God speaks and, because of this, man is a called-upon being. This anthropological dimension of Revelation is laconically expressed in the Constitution Dei Verbum 2 : « through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature ». The Fathers of the Church have used the traditional doctrine of Imago Dei on this anthropological theme. For example, Saint Irenaeus, commenting on Saint Paul, speaks of the Son and the Spirit as the « hands of the Father » which make man in « the image and semblance of God ».[12]
It is important to maintain this anthropological dimension of Revelation, because it plays an important role today in the hermeneutics of Biblical texts. Vatican Council II redefined the dialogic identity of man, starting from the Word of God in Christ. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. "For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear." (GS 22 § 1). Thus it appears that, in this Christological light, in embracing this supreme vocation through faith and love, man reaches his full personal identity in the Church, the mystery of communion, "people assembled in the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit." [13]
On the pastoral level, should we not verify that this dialogic and filial anthropology founded on Christ occupies its proper place in the Liturgy, in catechesis and in theological teaching? DV reminds us: "For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life" (DV 21).
We have stated that the Divine vocation of man is enlightened in the mystery of the Word made flesh, the new Adam. This vocation confers upon him a transcendental dynamism, under the mode of a deep desire for God, inscribed within his own being. Man is a being of desires who aspires to the infinite, but he is also a being of service who obeys the Word of God: "I am the Lord's servant" (Lk 1:38). All anthropology is played in this passage from desire to service that makes man an ecclesial being, an anima ecclesiastica.C. THE SPOUSE OF THE WORD MADE FLESH1. The Daughter of Zion and the Church« In union with the whole Church we honor Mary, the ever-virgin mother of Jesus Christ our Lord and God » (Roman Canon).A woman, Mary, perfectly accomplishes the divine vocation of humanity by her "yes" to the Word of Covenant and her mission. Through her divine motherhood and her spiritual motherhood, Mary appears as the permanent model and form for the Church, like the first Church. Let us look briefly at the flesh-and-blood dimension of Mary, between the old and the new Covenant, who accomplishes the passage from Israel's faith to the Church's faith. Let us contemplate the Annunciation, which is the unsurpassable origin and model for self-communication with God and the experience of faith in the Church. This will be used as a paradigm to understand the dialogic identity of the Word of God in the Church.The God who speaks clarifies the Trinitarian dimension of Revelation. The Angel of the Annunciation speaks in the name of God the Father, who takes the initiative to address his creature to show his vocation and mission. This is an event of grace whose content is communicated despite the fear and astonishment of his creature: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God". In the ensuing lively dialogue, Mary asks: "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?". The angel answers: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Lk 1:35).
Apart from this Trinitarian dimension of the event, Mary's dialogue with the angel shows us, at the same time, the vital reaction of the person called upon, her fear, her perplexity, and her asking for an explanation. God respects the freedom of his creature, this is why he adds the sign of the fertility of Elizabeth which allows Mary to agree in a way that is at the same time supernatural and fully human. "I am the servant of God. May it be to me as you have said » (Lk 1:38). Spouse of the living God, Mary becomes the mother of the Son through the grace of the Holy Spirit.
As soon as Mary agrees unconditionally to the angel's announcement, the Trinitarian life enters her soul, her heart and her bosom, inaugurating the mystery of the Church. Because the Church of the New Testament begins to exist where the Word made flesh is embraced, cherished and served with full availability to the Holy Spirit. This life of communion with the Word in the Spirit begins with the Angel's announcement and extends to Mary's existence. This life includes all the stages of the growth and the mission of the Word made flesh, in particular the eschatological event of the Cross where Mary receives from Jesus himself the announcement of the fullness of her spiritual maternity: "Woman, here is your son" (Jn 19:26). In all its stages, through "her initial and permanent YES",[14] Mary communes with the life of God who gives himself and she collaborates fully with his plan for salvation for all humanity. She is the new Eve sung by Irenaeus, who participates as the spouse of the Lamb to the universal fertility of the Word made flesh.
The event of the annunciation and Mary's life illustrate and recapitulate the structure of the Covenant of the Word of God and the responsorial attitude of faith. They emphasize the personal and Trinitarian nature of faith, which consists in a gift of the person to God who gives himself through revealing himself.[15] "This attitude is the attitude of saints. It is the same as the Church's who never ceases converting to her Lord in response to the voice addressed to her".16 This is why attention to the figure of Mary as model and even archtype17 of the Church's faith appears to be capital to concretely operate a change of paradigm in the relationship with the Word of God. This change of paradigm does not obey the philosophy of the day, rather it is the rediscovery of the original source of the Word, the vital dialogue of the Trine-God with the Church, his Spouse, achieved in the holy Liturgy. "Effectively, for the accomplishment of this great work by which God is perfectly glorified and men sanctified, Christ is always associated with the Church, his truly-loved Spouse, who invokes her as the Lord and who goes through him to give her worship to the Eternal Father".[18]2. Tradition, Scripture and MagisteriumTo speak about the Liturgy as the Church's vital dialogue with God, means speaking about tradition in its first perception, that is to say, the living transmission of the mystery of the new Covenant. Tradition is constituted by apostolic preaching, it precedes the Scriptures, elaborates and accompanies always: The Word of God preached engenders faith, which will be expressed at its summit by baptism and the Eucharist. This in fact is where God in Christ offers his life to men "so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself." (DV 2). This is also where the Church, on behalf of all humanity, answers the God of the Covenant by offering herself with Christ for His glory and for the salvation of the world.
In the living tradition of the Church, the Word of God takes first place: it is the living Christ. The written Word testifies to this. In effect, Scripture is a historical assertion and a canonic reference that are necessary for prayer, the life and the doctrine of the Church. However, Scripture is not all the Word, it is not totally identified with her, from which stems the importance of the distinction between the Word and the Book, like between the letter and the Spirit. Saint Paul asserts forcefully that we are the ministers "of a new Covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit,; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6). It is clear that the letter of the Scripture plays a primordial and normative role in the Church, but "Christianity is not truly a 'religion of the book'. It is the religion of the Word - but not solely or mainly of the Word in its written form. It is the religion of the Word - and not of a written and mute word, but a Word made flesh and living".[20] This religion of the Word however is inseparable from the written Word, maintaining with it a complex but essential relationship.
The unity of living tradition and Holy Scriptures rests on the Holy Spirit's assistance to those working in the pastoral ministry. "But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one repository of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed" (DV 10).
The assistance given to the Magisterium by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Tim 1:14) completes the action exercised in creation and the history of salvation. In fact, the Holy Spirit is at work in history, inciting "actions" and "words" that have interpreted events and that were handed over in the written form in the Holy books (DV I, 2). The historical and critical exegesis made us more conscious of the complex human mediation that intervened in the elaboration of the holy texts, nevertheless the Holy Spirit guided all the history of salvation, he inspired the oral and written interpretation and created its culmination in Christ and the Church. Saint Paul poetically describes "the Word of God" as the "sword of the Spirit" (Eph 6:17). He excels in giving value to the role of the Spirit in God's plan, especially in the magisterial synthesis of the Epistle to the Ephesians (cf. 1:13, 2:22, 3:5). We should note however that the Holy Spirit's action does not oppose the dialogic dimension or the doctrinal dimension, as the Magisterium of the Church attempts to recall, all placing the accent in DV on the personal, dialogic dimension, starting from self-communication of God in Christ.
"It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls" (DV 10). Despite this delicate balance that has many ecumenical implications, tensions exist and the reflection is to pursue these fundamental questions that determine the way of reading the Scriptures, interpreting them and making them fruitful to the life and mission of the Church.
Convocatio: God convokes his creatures to living by his Word. He calls man to dialogue in his Son and calls the Church to share his Divine life in the Spirit. We wished to conclude this part on the identity of the Word of God with a section on the Church, the Spouse of the Word made flesh. Despite the complexities of the relationship between Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterium, the Holy Spirit assures a unity to the whole, especially if we maintain the responsorial and even nuptial dynamic of the relationship of the Covenant. In placing the ecclesial functions of Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterium within a Marian ecclesiology, we invite a change of the paradigm where the emphasis passes from the Noetic dimension to the personal dimension of Revelation. The archetypical figure of Mary allows emphasizing the dynamic dimension of the Word and the personal nature of faith as a gift of oneself, all while inviting the Church to live under the Word and open to all actions by the Holy Spirit.II. COMMUNIO: THE WORD OF GOD IN THE CHURCH'S LIFEIn this second part, we will deal with the Word of God in the life of the Church, beginning with the Church's dialogue with God in the holy Liturgy, which is the crib of the Word, its Sitz im Leben.[21] Then we deal with the Lectio Divina and ecclesial interpretation of Holy Scriptures, placing the accent on the research for a spiritual meaning, thus inviting to renewal with the exegesis of the Fathers of the Church.A. DIALOGUE OF THE CHURCH WITH THE GOD WHO SPEAKS1. The Sacred LiturgyThe Liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly function of Jesus Christ, exercise in which the integral public worship is practiced by the mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is to say the Head and His members (cf. SC 7). This is why the Constitution Sacrosanctum concilium insists on the different modalities of the presence of Christ in the Liturgy. "He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, "the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross, but especially under the Eucharistic species". "He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church" (SC 7).
"He is speaking as we read the Holy Scriptures in the Church". We cannot insist enough on the pastoral implications of this solemn council assertion. It reminds us that the primary subject of the holy Liturgy is Christ Himself, addressing his People and offering himself to his Father as sacrifice of love for the salvation of the world. Even if in the achievement of liturgical rites the Church seems to have a primary role, in truth, she only plays a subordinate role, at the service of the Word and He who speaks. Church -centricism is alien to the Council reforms. When the Word is announced, it is Christ speaking in the name of His Father, and the Holy Spirit makes us embrace His Word and be in communion with His life. The Liturgical assembly exists inasmuch as it is centered on the Word and not on itself. Otherwise, it degenerates into any sort of social group.Because of this insistence, the Church teaches us that the Word of God is above all God who speaks. Already in the first Covenant, God speaks to His people through Moses, who returns with the answer of the people to the words of Yahweh "everything Yahweh has asked of us, we shall do" (Ex 19:8)[22] God speaks to us less to teach than to communicate Himself and "introduce us to His communion" (DV 2). The Holy Spirit realizes this communion in assembling the community around the Word and in practicing the Paschal Mystery of Christ, where he gives himself up in communion. Because, according to the Scriptures, the mission of the Word made flesh culminates in the communication of the Divine Spirit [23]. In this Trinitarian and pneumatological light, it is made clearer that the holy Liturgy is the living dialogue between God who speaks and the community that listens and answers with praise, acts of grace and engages in the life and the mission. How to cultivate in the faithful the conscience that the Liturgy is the practice of the priestly function of Jesus Christ to whom the Church is associated as the beloved Spouse? What consequences should arise from the rediscovery of this original place of the Word on the Biblical hermeneutics, on the celebration of the Eucharist and in particular in the place and function of the Liturgy of the Word, including the homily?a) Word and Eucharist"The Church has always venerated the Sacred Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body" (DV 21).In comparing the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist at two "tables", DV wished to underline, rightly so, the importance of the Word. This expression goes back to a traditional given that we find strongly asserted by Origen, for example, when he exhorts respect of the Word as to the Body of Christ. "While speaking of his body, you rightly bring many precautions, why would you be negligent with the Word of God by granting any less chastisement than that of the Body?"[24]

If we wish to maintain the metaphor of two tables, shouldn't we nuance the way of worshiping them?[25] Shouldn't we underline also and above all their unity for they serve the same "Bread of life"! (Jn 6:35-58) to the faithful? Be it under the form of the Word to be believed or the Flesh to be eaten, the proclaimed Word and the Word pronounced on the oblates participating at the same sacramental event. The Liturgy of the Word bears in itself a spiritual force that is strengthened by its intrinsic bond with the practice of the Paschal Mystery: the Word of God that becomes sacramental Flesh through the power of the Spirit. This sacramental mystery is achieved through words, as was recalled at the Council of Trent,[26] and also through the action of the Holy Spirit, who rests on the ordained minister and is explicitly invoked in the epiclesis.
The Spirit confers on the Word proclaimed in the Liturgy a performative virtue, in other words, "living" and "active" (Heb 4:12). This means that the liturgical Word, such as the Gospel " is not merely a communication of things that can be known--it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing.".[27] This performative virtue of the liturgical Word depends on the fact that He who speaks does not wish to teach his Word, rather he would communicate of himself. He who listens and answers does not adhere only to abstract truths; they engage themselves personally with their whole life, thus manifesting their identity as a member of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the key to this vital piece of communication. He is the one who models the sacramental and ecclesial Body of Christ, just as he modeled in Mary His Body of flesh and according to Origen's word, the "body of Scriptures".[28] Thus, with the Son and the Spirit, "the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them" (DV 21). How can we shape disciples and ministers capable of underlining the Trinitary and responsorial dimension of the Liturgy? These pastoral incidents do not only require a reform in studies, but also a re-evaluation of contemplation of the Scriptures.b) The homilyDespite the renewal that the homily was made subject of the Council, we still feel great lack of satisfaction on the part of many faithful with regards to the ministry of preaching. In part, this lack of satisfaction explains why many Catholics turned towards other groups and religions. To resolve these problems in preaching, we know that it does not suffice to give priority to the Word of God, because it must also be interpreted correctly in the mystagogic context of the Liturgy. Nor does it suffice to turn towards exegesis or the use of new pedagogical means or technologies, nor does it suffice that the minister's personal life is in close harmony with the proclaimed Word. All this is very important, but may remain extrinsic to achieving the Paschal Mystery of Christ. How can we help homelists place the life and Word in relationship with this eschatological event that surges in the heart of the assembly? The homily must reach spiritual "depth", that is to say the Christology of Holy Scriptures.[29] How can we avoid the tendency towards moralism and cultivate the calling to a decision of faith?
The Instrumentum laboris underlined a passage in Luke 4:21 that mentions the "first homily" by Jesus in the Synagogue in Nazareth: "Then he began to speak to them, 'This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening". Luke's Gospel introduces this sequence in a solemn way, by making a summary of Jesus' preaching and destiny. In a certain way, the scene in the synagogue in Nazareth was a symbol of His life. The people were astounded by the message of grace that came from his mouth, but at the end, they were ready to throw him into the precipice. The beginning of his preaching was the prologue of the Paschal Mystery.
"This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening" (Lk 4:21). Between the today of the Risen One and the today of the assembly, there is the mediation of Scriptures brought by the Spirit on the lips of the homelist. "They were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips" (Lk 4:22). Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the text, explained rather simply and in a familiar way, is useful as a mediation for the encounter between Christ and the community. Thus, the accomplishment of Scriptures comes about in the faith of the community that embraces Christ as the Word of God. The today that is of interest to the preacher is the today of faith, the decision of faith to abandon oneself to Christ and to obey Him to the moral needs of the Gospel..
The priest as minister of the Word completes what is missing in the preaching of Jesus for His body, which is the Church. He shares the suffering of preparation, the difficulties of communication, but above all the joy in being an instrument of the Holy Spirit in the service of a radical event: "man's welcome to the offering of God's love that presents itself to him in Christ".[30]c) The Divine OfficeGod continues to speak with His people through His Son, in the Spirit, "not only by celebrating the Eucharist, but also in other ways, especially by praying the divine office" (SC 83). "Christ Jesus, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise." Saint Augustine writes: "Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ, only Savior of his mystical Body, prays for us, prays in us and receives our prayers. He prays for us like our priest, He prays in us like our chief, He receives our prayer as our God. Therefore let us recognize that we speak in Him and He speaks in us".[31]
The divine Office is part of the practice of the priestly function of Jesus Christ, to whom the Church is intimately associated as the Spouse of the Word made flesh. The renewal of the Divine Office, realized by the Council, produced great fruits in the Church thanks to the development of a vaster practice in simplified forms that allow frequent and praying contact with the Word of God. This monastic and conventual practice, with Patristic readings, is a constitutive element of ecclesial tradition and represents, in consequence, an important reference for interpreting Scriptures in the Church.
This ecclesial practice embodies the spiritual finality of the Holy Scriptures and underlines the unsurpassed prayer in the Psalms. "For although all our Scripture, both the Old and New, is divinely inspired and useful for doctrine, as it is written, the Book of Psalms", St. Athanasius writes, " like a paradise containing in itself (the fruits) all the others, gives forth songs, and with them also shows its own songs in psalmody."[32] He who sings the psalms is in front of a "mirror", where he can find his true feelings, like St. Augustine who confessed: "These voices poured into my ears and truth became clear in my heart and then feelings of piety grew warm within me and my tears flowed and it was well with me for them".[33]
The Synod should recall at which point the fervent practice of the Divine Office, according to each community's norms, resides a precious leaven of community life and joy.[34] She embodies the Sequela Christi, the union of the two Spouses in the praise of love and intercession for the glory of God and the salvation of the world.

2. Lectio divinaThe Church's tradition also sees the practice of the Lectio Divina as a savory contemplation of the Holy Scriptures, in the way Mary meditated all the mysteries of Jesus in her heart. "Mary sought the spiritual sense of the Scriptures and found it, associating it (symballousa) with the written words, the life of Jesus and the moments of discovery in her personal history." In this, "Mary becomes an example of faith for all of us, from the most simple soul to the most scholarly of the Doctors of the Church, who seek, consider and set forth how to bear witness to the Gospel."[35]
Pope Benedict XVI writes: "Above all, I would like to evoke and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio Divina. Frequent reading of the Divine Scriptures, accompanied by prayer, achieves intimate dialogue in which, while reading we listen to God who speaks and by praying we answer Him with the openness of a trusting heart". (cf. DV 25). "If this practice is promoted efficiently, it will bear a new spiritual spring to the Church. I am convinced of this."[36]
For the practice of the Lectio Divina to be lived more fruitfully, the text from DV 23 puts us in the right light by calling upon the Church, the Spouse of the Word made flesh, that is enlivened and taught by the Holy Spirit. This ecclesiological marriage introduces the climate of love and reciprocity that favor the contemplation of Scriptures. This precious indication helps us become conscious of ecclesiological presuppositions that play a role, more important than it would seem, in the dialogue with God to even the Holy text. In the measure that the Church, in her members, perceives herself as a beloved spouse, the object of a chosen love, it becomes natural to turn lovingly to the Holy Scriptures as towards the never-ending source of Divine Love.[37]
"In this matter, the outstanding exegesis of the Church Fathers should be taken up again and properly understood as well as the great medieval institutions of the 'four senses of Scripture', and interest in them kept alive".[38] The practice of the Lectio Divina will bear fruit as long as it is bathed in an atmosphere of trust towards the Scriptures, which presupposes an exegesis of the text " in the sacred spirit in which it was written" (DV 12). In this context, we cannot encourage enough "the study of the holy Fathers of both East and West and of sacred liturgies" (DV 23).
Briefly, the Lectio Divina can bring much to the Church's dialogue with God, the formation of disciples and Christian communities, and even towards closeness between the Churches and ecclesial communities through the "common spiritual reading of the Word of God".[39]
We hope the Synod will encourage the search for new strategies, simple and attractive, adaptable to the whole of the Christian people or to particular categories of faithful, to develop the taste and the practice of continuous reading, community as well as personal, of the Word of God.B. Ecclesial interpretation of the Word of God1. Elements of problematicsSince apostolic times, interpretation of the Scriptures in the Church gave way to conflicts and recurring tensions. Schisms and separations also added other obstacles. Parallel to these unhappy events, exegesis and theology separated, not only one from the other, but also from the spiritual interpretation of Scriptures that was current during the Patristic Age .[40] The contemplative model of monastic and patristic theology gave way to a speculative and often polemic model, under the influence of errors to be fought and historical, philosophical and scientific discoveries. Let also add the anthropocentric turning-point of modern thought, which has discarded the metaphysics of being in favor of an immanent epistemology. Prisoner of the enchanting enclosure of the "cogito" (Ricœur), man is fascinated by his own speculative feats (Hegel), however he loses the feeling of wonder when facing the mystery of being and Revelation..[41]
In this context of separation and conflict between faith and reason, we see a questioning of the unity of the Scriptures and excessive fragmentation of interpretations. From now on, the internal relationship of exegesis and faith no longer creates unanimity, and tensions against exegetes, pastors and theologians increase.[42] Certainly, we complete, more and more, the historic and critical exegesis through other methods, where some retie with the tradition and history of exegesis.[43] However, in a more general fashion, after several decades of concentration upon human meditations on the Scriptures, should we not find again the divine depth of the inspired text, without losing the precious acquisitions from new methodologies?
We cannot overemphasize this point because the crisis of exegesis and theological hermeneutics has a profound effect on the spiritual life of the People of God and their trust in the Scriptures. It also affects ecclesial communion, because of the climate of often unhealthy tension between university theology and ecclesial Magisterium. Faced with this delicate situation, and without getting into the debates on schools, the Synod must give a direction, to heal relationships and favor integration of acquired knowledge from biblical and hermeneutical sciences into the ecclesial interpretation of Holy Scriptures[44]
In this sense, dialogue promoted by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, should be intensified, so as to study the contrasting points in a multi-disciplinary way and with respect towards the various competencies , and thus to prepare the judgment of the Church that must carry out "the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God." (DV 12). The Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission play an important role, which is greatly appreciated. The Synod should recognize the precious contribution of these organisms and encourage joint sessions[45] to intensify dialogue between pastors, theologians and exegetes. It could also suggest regional encounters of the same kind that would help cultivate a healthy atmosphere of communion and service of the Word of God. Also, the Synod could propose using the spiritual meaning of Scriptures as axis of integration in this search for unity.[46] 2. The spiritual meaning of ScriptureFather de Lubac writes: "The attentive theologian recognizes, without hesitation, that the existence of a dual literal and spiritual meaning is an inalienable given of tradition. It is part of the Christian patrimony. It [the spiritual sense] is, let us reiterate with the Fathers, the New Testament itself, with all its fruitfulness, reveals itself to us as the accomplishment and transfiguration of the Old Testament"[47] According to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the spiritual sense presupposes the literal meaning and is based upon it.[48] However, any symbolic or spiritual interpretation must maintain homogeneity with the literal meaning. Because, "admitting heterogenous meanings would mean cutting the Biblical message away from its roots, which are the Word of God proclaimed historically, and opening the door to uncontrollable subjectivism".[49]
This fear of subjectivism and the lack of contemporary reflection on scriptural inspiration explains the slowness of contemporary Catholic exegesis in being truly interested in the spiritual meaning of Scriptures.[50] However, a significant evolution is coming forth in this sense: the PBC writes, "In general, we can define the spiritual sense, understood according to Christian faith, as the sense expressed by the Biblical texts, when read under the influence of the Holy Spirit in the context of the Paschal Mystery of Christ and the resulting new life"[51] This definition truly follows the orientation given in DV 12, which asks to interpret the Biblical texts in the same Spirit as they were written.In effect, the Spirit prepares the events in the Old and New Testaments according to a progression going from the promise to the achievement; through the Spirit these events have been interpreted with prophetic or knowledgeable words, to lead the People of God, through purification and subsequent searches, to the encounter with Jesus Christ, the fullness of Revelation. In the end, the spiritual meaning of Scriptures, "the true meaning remains that of the Holy Spirit".[52] Saint Bernard writes: "As for me, as the Lord taught me, I will look in the deep recesses of the holy word for his Spirit and his living meaning; this is my part, because I believe in Jesus Christ. How could I not draw from a dead and insipid letter a savory and healthy spiritual food, as we separate the grain from the husk, the nut from its shell or how to extract the marrow from a bone? I have nothing to do with this letter having the taste of flesh and that gives death to those who swallow it. But with what is hidden under its envelope comes from the Holy Spirit"[53].
The practice of spiritual exegesis of the Scriptures here requires once again a pneumatological search. It is not enough to read "influenced by the Holy Spirit", one must try to perceive the Spirit that is contained in the letter. Thus, the Holy Spirit is no longer simply an extrinsic agent of the creation of the Holy Scriptures, he is the one who, in the Bible, expresses himself in concert with the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ. In prolonging this search, it would be opportune for the Synod to ask itself about the pertinence of a possible encyclical on the interpretation of Scriptures in the Church.3. Exegesis and theologyExegesis and theology deal with the same object, the Word of God, but from different and complementary perspectives. The exegete studies the "letter" of the Scriptures "in the sacred spirit in which it was written"[54] for "the meaning of the sacred texts to be correctly worked out" (DV 12). He pays attention to the historical genesis of the texts, their literary genre, their structure, but also to the relationship between the different books of the Bible and between the two Testaments. The Synod should welcome the renewed interest in the canonic approach to Scriptures and the efforts to propose syntheses of common Biblical theology as interesting steps forward towards a global knowledge of the Scriptures. The theologian, also, makes efforts to interpret the "letter" for "unity of the whole of Scripture", keeping in mind "the living tradition of the whole Church" (DV 12), philosophical and other languages that mark the culture of his time, while respecting as much as possible the particular sensitivities of his contemporaries. Exegetes and theologians know that "the Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and since they are inspired, they truly are the Word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology" (DV 24). This Word of God is always and simultaneously the Word of Faith, the witness of a people and its inspired authors. Therefore, the exegetical and theological methods should reflect interdependence of the "letter", of the Spirit and of the faith in the work of interpretation. The Covenant relationship between God and His people lives within the text itself and commands not only a noetic interpretation, but one that is also dynamic and dialogic. In brief, either the exegetes and the theologians rigorously interpret the Bible in faith and listening to the Spirit, or they hold to the superficial characteristics of the text, limiting the considerations to historical, linguistic or literary ones.
Among the urgent tasks of the study, it is important to research theological epistemology, aided by the Fathers of the Church and the saints. By their personal and methodical attitude of contemplative faith , they open themselves up to the depths of the text, that is to say to the presence of God who speaks now to this person and calls upon the listener. From this stems their witness of a "science of love[55]"in which dwells the path of access "par excellence" to the knowledge of God. "The inspired justice which the less speculative saints insist upon for certain aspects of Christian life could have unforeseen effects on the living theology of the Church. Remember the rule of St. Benedict, the testament of St. Francis of Assisi, the Exercises by St. Ignatius"[56].Even if the aforementioned saints are not theologians by profession, the accents true to their life are used as "canons" and rules of interpretation of Revelation, because "it is those who love who know the most about God. This is who the theologian must listen to". [57] Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus knew that her path of spiritual childhood was an example to be imitated and St. Paul, in the Christian Bible, also gives of himself as a model."For an anthropological ethic, the honesty with which Saint Paul shows in himself the Christian holiness - to demonstrate the dogmatic truth - and presents the analysis of his own existence before the whole Church and before the world will always be shocking, But this is but the exact and docile reflection, on the ecclesial plane, of the extraordinary assertion of Christ, that he is himself in his existence living the truth of God".[58] "The way St. Francis understands the Scriptures can be distinguished by some essential points, from those of his biographers. They are familiar with the scientific methods of that time and engage in a symbolic exegesis where no limitation is imposed on imagination. It is completely different in Francis: he has no idea about the hermeneutical principles accepted during his era. His exegesis is realistic, concrete, his imagination is tied to the letter of the Scriptures".[59] Briefly, the saints contemplate the depths of God that emerge from the Holy Scriptures with the eyes of the Spirit.[60] "The saints are to the Gospel as is a sung partition in relationship to a noted partition", Saint Francis de Sales writes.[61] III. MISSIO : THE WORD OF GOD IN THE MISSION OF THE CHURCHWe have placed the Word of God in the life of the Church under the sign of Communio, because the Word embraced with faith introduces us into Trinitarian communion. The experience of this communion leads to an ever deeper conversion to Love and participation in the missionary and eschatological dynamism of the Word of God. Enlivened by the Spirit of Pentecost, this Synod wishes to echo this dynamism. "The Word of God began to spread and to gain followers", says the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12:24). It made adepts among the Jews and the pagans, as witnessed by Peter himself to the community of Jerusalem in speaking about the effusion of the Holy Spirit over the pagans. "In this powerful way the word of the Lord spread more and more widely and successfully" (Acts 19:20), building up the Church and communicating the peace of the Kingdom (cf. Acts 9:31).A. Proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God1. The Church, Servant of the WordThe Church "has a vivid awareness of the fact that the Savior's words, "I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God," apply in all truth to herself: She willingly adds with St. Paul: 'Not that I boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty that has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it' (1 Cor 9:16). The heart of the mission of the Church is to evangelize. Evangelizing means: "to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ's sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of His death and glorious resurrection." (EN 14). "For the Church, evangelizing means bringing the Good News into all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new: 'Now I am making the whole of creation new' (Rev 21:5)" (EN 18).
In achieving her evangelizing mission, the Church welcomes and holds the Word of God. Through prophecy, the Liturgy and the diaconate, she testifies to the personal dynamism of the Word made flesh. Bishops, priests, deacons, laity and consecrated persons all dwell under the Word and act concertedly with it, according to the charism they received from the Spirit. Thus collaborating with the Word of God, the Church participates in the mission of the Spirit that assembles the "scattered children of God" (Jn 11:52) "under Christ, as head" (Eph 1:10). 2. The historical Jesus of the GospelsAs during Apostolic times, the Church proclaims the Kingdom of God, that is to say Jesus Christ, as presented by the Gospels. Now, this task has been put aside because of the influence of currents of exegesis that dug a trench between the Jesus in history and the "Christ of faith". These exegetic currents have questioned the historical worth of the Gospels, thus undermining the credibility of the text."Such a situation is dramatic for faith, because the true balancing point upon which all depends - intimate friendship with Jesus - remains uncertain", Benedict XVI declares. [62] It is true that for the past few decades, Biblical studies have re-established the historical value of the Gospels[63] and even re-asserted their biographical characteristic[64]. These results are still not widely known and have not corrected the negative impact of rationalistic exegesis on spiritual life and the missionary witness of Christians.
In this context, the publication of the book "Jesus of Nazareth" by Pope Benedict XVI represents a major event that frees access to the authentic figure of Jesus. It shows that the divine identity of Jesus, historically recorded by the Gospels, emerges from the texts themselves and its coherent and credible witness in the New Testament. While enhancing the positive aspects of historical and critical exegesis, the Pope underlines his own methodological limits and hopes for the development of "canonical exegesis" to complete theological interpretation. The liberating attitude of Benedict XVI consists in "trusting in the Gospels", in presenting "the Jesus of the Gospels as a real Jesus", as an "historical Jesus" in the proper sense of the term[65].
In no way is this book "an act of the Magisterium"[66] , it remains nevertheless a beacon that protects from pitfalls and wreckage. Its witness is close to theology and exegesis through the harmonious union of scientific competence and personal witness by an ecclesial authority. It goes without saying that such a work helps dissipate the confusion sown by certain mediatic phenomena[67] and relaunch the Church's dialogue with contemporary culture. The Synod could recognize this book as an important place for the new foundation of a contemplative culture of the Gospels.B. Incarnating the testimony of God-Love1. The primacy of loveWhen the Spirit speaks to the Church today in recalling the Scriptures, He calls her to a new testimony of love and unity to raise credibility in the Gospel faced with a world more attuned towards witnesses than doctors: "It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples" (Jn 13:35). This sign of reciprocal love continues the witness of God, because it embodies the love of Jesus himself, who said: "you must love one another just as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). This "just" means love each other with the same love that I love you. All the ministerial prayer of Jesus, synthesis of his Paschal offering, aims at associating humanity to the testimony of the unity of the Trinity: "I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in unity that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me and that you have loved them as you have loved me" (Jn 17:22-23). Gregory of Nyssa identifies the Glory with the Spirit[68], who also prays with Christ so that his disciples may be consecrated in the truth, that is to say consumed in the unity. This solemn prayer shows well that faithfulness to the commandment of love engages not only the salvation of the believer, but also and above all credibility of the Trinity in the world. "May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (Jn 17:21).
Consequently, the witness of the Word of God demands that the missionary disciples [69] be authentic witnesses of the primacy of love over science. Saint Paul states without hesitation in the hymn to love in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor:1-13) as well as in his exhortation to the Philippians: "make my joy complete by being of a single mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind" (Phil 2:2) following Christ's example in his kenosis. "These are not arid manuals, even if full of indubitable truths, which can express the truth of the Gospel and make it plausible to the world, it is the existence of the saints taken over by the Holy Spirit of Christ. Christ did not foresee any other apologetics (Jn 13:35).[70] 2. Ecumenical testimonyAfter the official entry of the Catholic Church in the ecumenical movement, popes made a priority of the cause for Christian unity. Also, the ecumenical "rapprochement" allowed the Churches and ecclesial communities to question themselves together about their own faithfulness to the Word of God. Although the ecumenical encounters and dialogue have produced fruits of brotherhood, reconciliation and mutual aid, the situation today is characterized by a certain degree of discomfort that calls for a deeper conversion to "spiritual ecumenism"[71] . "This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, spiritual ecumenism" (UR 8)
This orientation of the Council maintains its relevance as exhorted by the Holy Father: "Together listen to the Word of God, practice the Lectio Divina of the Bible, that is to say reading associated with prayer, marvel at the novelty that never ages and never fades, the Word of God, to overcome our deafness to those words that do not agree with our prejudice and our opinions, to listen to study in the communion of believers of all times, all this makes up a path to follow to achieve unity in faith, as a response to listening to the Word" [72].
Among the many ecumenical witnesses of our time, let us mention as an example, the Focolari movement founded by Chiara Lubich, whose spirituality of unity places the accent on "mutual love" and obedience to the Word of life". The pedagogy of this movement correctly gives priority to the dynamic element of love in relationship to the noetic element of the Word. This priority demands an ever deeper conversion to the plan of love of the Trinitarian God from all the ecumenical partners, that the Holy Spirit tries to achieve with the "groans that cannot be put into words" (Rom 8:26). It is significant that this Catholic and ecumenical movement - should we not use "Catholic" only, that is to say ecumenical? - bears the canonic name of "Work of Mary". We can see happily and harmoniously drawn - as in other movements[73] the Biblical movement, the ecumenical movement, and the Marian movement, thanks to the resolute exercise of the Word of God, made flesh and shared.[74] This witness recalls that unity of Christians and its missionary impact are not our first "task", but the task of the Spirit and of Mary[75].C. Dialogue with nations and religions1. At the service of manThe missionary activity of the Church is rooted, as we have said, in the mission of Christ and the Spirit that reveals and spreads the Trinitarian communion to all cultures in the world. The universal salvific breadth of the Paschal Mystery of Christ calls the announcement of the Good News to all nations and also to all religions. The Word of God invites all men in Jesus Christ, the only mediator (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, 9:5, 12:24). The missionary activity of the Church testifies Her love for the whole Christ which includes all cultures. In Her efforts for evangelization of cultures, this activity aims towards the unity of humanity in Jesus Christ, but all in respect and integration of all human values.[76] "Finally, brothers, let your minds be filled with everything that is true, everything that is honorable, everything that is upright and pure, everything that we love and admire - with whatever is good and praiseworthy" (Phil 4:8).
In Her liturgical dialogue with God, the Church intercedes for all humans and especially for the poorest ones. Her passion for the Word of God draws Her to the footsteps of the poor, chaste and obedient Jesus, to bring hope, reconciliation and peace to all situations of injustice, oppression and war. Like the "Good Samaritan", this care for man, however he may be, expresses the Church's compassion for all human suffering and Her availability to help the poor and afflicted. Conscious of the presence of Jesus by Her side, as on the road to Emmaus, She interprets Scriptures, as He does, "beginning with Moses and all the prophets" and explaining the mystery of Jesus the Savior to all men. "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer before entering into his glory?" (Lk 24:26).This exegesis of Jesus, continuously taken up by the Church, authenticates the Christological interpretation of the First Testament, which the Fathers, after Origen and Irenaeus, have largely developed. Today, bearing in mind the tragic history of the relations between Israel and the Church, we are invited not only to repair any injustice committed against the Jews, but also to a "new respect towards the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament"[77]. Respectful and constructive dialogue with Judaism may also be useful, on both sides, in studying the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures[78] .2. Inter-religious dialogue Among the partners of the different dialogues of the Church with nations, the Jewish people occupy a unique place as the heir of the first Covenant, whose Holy Scriptures we share. This common heritage invites us to hope, for "there is no change of mind on God's part about the gifts he has made or of his choice" (Rom 11:29), as passionately testified by Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans. "This is the truth and I am speaking in Christ, without pretense, as my conscience testifies for me in the Holy Spirit; there is great sorrow and unremitting agony in my heart: I could pray that I myself might be accursed and cut off from Christ, if this could benefit the brothers who are my own flesh and blood. They are Israelites; it was they who were adopted as children, the glory was theirs and the covenants; to them were given the Law and the worship of God and the promises. To them belong the fathers and out of them, so far as physical descent is concerned, came Christ who is above all, God, blessed for ever. Amen" (Rom 9:1-5), "I want you to be quite certain, brothers, of this mystery, to save you from congratulating yourselves on your own good sense: part of Israel had its mind hardened, but only until the gentiles have wholly come in; and this is how all Israel will be saved. As scripture says" (Rom 11:25-26).
Then come the faithful to the Muslim faith, they too rooted in the Biblical tradition, believers in the one God. Faced with secularization and liberalism, they are allies in the defense of human life and in the assertion of the social importance of religion. Dialogue with them is more important than ever in today's circumstances "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" (NA 3). The testimony of the martyrs of Tibhirin in Algeria in 1996 raise this dialogue to a level never reached before in history, regarding the service of man and reconciliation of people. The audacious initiatives of Pope Benedict XVI plead for the persevering pursuit of dialogue with Islam.
Then finally come the humans "from every race, language, people and nation" (Rev 5:9), that are under the heavens, because the immolated Lamb shed his blood for all. The Word of God is especially destined to those who have never heard him, because, in God's heart and in the missionary conscience of the Church, the last have the grace of being the first.[79]
In a world on the path to globalization, with the new means of communication, the field of mission is open to new initiatives of evangelization with a spirit of authentic inculturation. We are in the era of Internet and the possibilities of access to the Holy Scriptures have multiplied[80]. The Synod must listen, discern and encourage the projects for the transmission and transposition of the Holy Scriptures in all these new languages that await serving the Word of God.
Conclusion"Who can overcome the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? He it is who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with water alone but with water and blood, and it is the Spirit that bears witness, for the Spirit is Truth. So there are three witnesses, the Spirit, water and blood; and the three of them coincide. If we accept the testimony of human witnesses, God's testimony is greater" (1 Jn 5:5-9). Jesus always turns to the Church, "to bear witness to the Truth" and to communicate to all those who believe in his name knowledge of God, of which he is full. This message from John points out the first goal and the first concern of the Synod, once again, to listen to and to welcome the God who speaks and to ask for the grace of a renewed faith in his Word made flesh. Conscious of the ecclesiological renewal tied to the dynamic and dialogic concept of Revelation, we have suggested some paths to study the Word of God, beginning from Mary's faith such as she extends in the life of the Church, the Liturgy, preaching, Lectio Divina, exegesis and theology.
The application of this Marian paradigm presupposes a pneumatological study of the ecclesial tradition and the scriptural exegesis that account for the performative virtue of the Word of God, all while distinguishing it carefully from the Eucharistic presence. More than a library for the erudite, the Bible is a temple where the Spouse of the Canticle listens to the promises of the Beloved and celebrates his kisses (cf. Sg 1:1). Saint Siluane writes, "Who has learned from the Holy Spirit understands all, his soul should feel as if it were in Heaven, because the Holy Spirit Himself is in Heaven and on earth, in the Holy Scriptures and in the souls of all those who love God".[81]
This more dynamic rather than noetic perspective calls for a more contemplative
theology, rooted in the Liturgy, the Fathers and the lives of the saints, exegesis practiced in a faith conforming to its object, and a philosophy of being and of love. It opens to a more fruitful spiritual reading of the Bible, to an ecclesial interpretation of the Scriptures and to a revitalization of the missionary dialogue of the Church and Her love for man, imperfect image of God.
Saint Caesar of Arles frequently exhorts the people of his diocese to never neglect what he qualified as "nourishment for the soul for eternity. I beg of you, beloved brothers, to apply yourselves in consecrating as many hours as you can to the reading of the sacred texts".[82] Often, at the end of the day, he liked to ask his priests, about meditation on the Word of God, "What have you eaten today?" May we find the same availability, the same taste for the Word of God, and ask ourselves the same question: "What have we eaten today?".Footnotes[1] St. CAESAR OF ARLES, sermon VI.[2] Instrumentum laboris, 4.[3] The adjective "dialogic" is a neologism. It is used to express the personal and responsorial dimension of faith as dialogue with God. It corresponds in a certain way to the distinction between "theological" and "theologal", the first expressing the noetic aspect and the second the personal aspect.[4] See J. Ratzinger, Commentary on Dei Verbum in LThK, 1967; A. Grillmeier in LThK Vat. II, vol. 2, Freiburg i. Br., 1967 ; H. de Lubac, Divine Revelation, Paris, Cerf, 1983, 190 p. ; A. Vanhoye, «The reception in the Church of the dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum. From Vatican Council II to the present day», in Esprit et Vie, n° 107, June 2004, 1re quinzaine, p. 3-13; H. Hoping: «Theologischer Kommentar zur Dogmatischen Konstitution über die göttliche Offenbarung. Dei Verbum», in P. Hünermann, B. J. Hilberath (Hrsg), Herders theologischer Kommentar zum Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzil. Freiburg-Basel-Wien: Herder, 2005; 695-831; C. Théobald, « Revelation. Forty years after Dei Verbum», in Revue théologique de Louvain 36 (2005), p. 145-165.[5] Instrumentum laboris, 6.[6] M. Seckler, «Der Begriff der Offenbarung», in Handbuch der Fundamentaltheologie, Ed. W. Kern, vol.2, Freiburg i. Br., 1985, p. 64-67.[7] Ibid.[8] J. Rigal, «The gnostic phenomenon», in Esprit et Vie, no 192, April 2008 - 2e quinzaine, p. 1-10.[9] P. Bordeyne et L. Villemin (dir.), The hermeneutic theology of Vatican II, Paris, Cerf (coll. «Cogitatio Fidei»), 2006, 268 p.[10] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, Deus caritas est.[11] Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter, Spe salvi, no 9.[12] Jn 19, 25-27; Jn 20, 21-22; 1 P 2, 9-10.[13] St Irenaeus of Lyon, Treatise against heresies, I, 3.[14] St. Cyprian, De Orat. Dom. 23: PL 4, 553.[15] Instrumentum laboris, 25.[16] « We do not believe in formulas, but in those realities they express, which faith allows us to 'touch'. "The believer's act [of faith] does not terminate in the propositions, but in the realities (which they express)' (St.. Thomas Aquinas, S. th. 2-2, 1, 2, ad 2) » (CEC 170). The formal object of faith is the Person who announces and who gives Himself in His supreme announcement, Jesus Christ, and whom the Holy Spirit enables us to confess. Faith is essentially Trinitarian, it is an act of self-giving in response to the Tri-Personal gift from God. One can hear in the text of Dei Verbum that balance must still be achieved between the personal or dynamic aspect and the noetic aspect of faith.[17] H. de Lubac, Scripture in Tradition, Aubier, 1966, p. 100.[18] That is to say that Mary's life of faith is more than an example for the Church, She is mother, a permanent source of life for the Church.[19] See Council of Trent, sess. XXII, 17 Sept. 1562, Decr. De Ss. Eucharist., c. 1."He wished to leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice." Lumen Gentium 4; Dei Verbum 8, 23; Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7. See also : Eph 5: 21-32; Rev 22:17; Jn 2: Jn 19:25-27).[20] H. de Lubac, Scripture in Tradition, Aubier, 1966, p. 246 ; The author is referring to St.Bernard, Sup. Missus est, h. 4, n. 11, Making Mary speak : « Nec fiat mihi verbum scriptum et mutum, sed incarnatum et vivum » (PL, 183, 86 B).[21] On the expression see W. Rordorf, « The confession of faith and its "Sitz im Leben" in the Ancient Church » in Novum Testamentum, Vol. 9, book. 3 (Jul., 1967), pp. 225-238; A. Vanhoye, « The reception in the Church of the dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum. From Vatican Council II to the present day», Esprit et Vie, n° 107,June 2004, p. 9.[22] This "responsorial" dimension is already emphatically expressed in the description of the rite founding the Covenant in Sinai (Ex 24:3.7) and also in the description of the preparatory phase. (Ex 19: 8).[23] Jn 19: 30 ; Jn 20: 22 ; Acts 2: 1-13 ; Rm 8: 15-17; Gal 4: 6.[24] Origen, Sermons on Exodus, 13, 3. [25] The history of the drafting of this phrase shows that a nuance was lost in the final version. The expression sicut et was used in place of velut in order to avoid forcing the comparison towards the sense of identical veneration. See H. Hoping, op. cit., 2005; p. 791. [26] « By the virtue of words the Body is found in the form of bread and the Blood in the form of wine. » Denz. 1640.[27] Benedict XVI, Spe salvi, 2.[28] Origen, Treatise on principles, IV, 2.8. ; cf. Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, 12-13.[29] See Light of the Word, the commentary of Sunday readings for years A, B and C by H. U. v. Balthasar, Culture et Vérité, 1990, which brings out the theological unity of the three readings. This commentary, which has been published in several languages, meets a need which is frequently expressed by homilists. The original in German Licht des Wortes. Skizzen zu allen Sonntagslesungen was published by Paulinus Verlag, Trier, 1987.[30] J. Ratzinger, Dogma and Preaching, Op. cit., p. 50; cf. Benedict XVI, Sacramentum caritatis, 46.[31] St Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 85.[32] St. Pius X, Apostolic Constitution Divino afflatu, 1911, Liturgy of the Hours, vol. 3, p. 1254.[33] Ibid.[34] We mention in the passage the welcome biblical renewal of several devotional practices that also help meditation on the Holy Scripture: worship of the Eucharist outside Mass, the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, etc. [35] Instrumentum laboris, 25.[36] Benedict XVI, « Ad Conventum Internationalem Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church» (16.09.2005) : AAS 97 (2005) 957. See also C.M. Martini, « The centrality of the Word of God in the Life of the Church - Biblical Life XXX» in Catholic Biblical Federation, no 76/77, 2005, p.33.[37] Cf. H. U. v. Balthasar, Sponsa Verbi. Skizzen zur Theologie II, Johannes Verlag, 1961 ; XXXLa Dramatique divine. II. Dramatis personae. 2. The people in Christ, p. 209-367 ; H. Rahner, « Die Gott Geburt. Die Lehre der Kirchenväter von der Geburt Christi Aus dem Herzen der Kirche und der Gläubigen », dans Symbole der Kirche (O. Müller, Salzburg, 1964, 13-87) ; L. A. Schökel, Símbolos matrimoniales en la Biblia, Estella, Verbo Divino, 1997.[38] Instrumentum laboris, 22.[39] W. Kasper, « Dei Verbum Audiens et Proclamans » in Catholic Biblical Federation, no 76/77, 2005, p.11. See also Groupe des Dombes, For the conversion of Churches, Paris, 1991.[40] H. U. v. Balthasar, Return to the Center, Desclée de Brouwer, 1998, p. 25-57[41] H. U. v. Balthasar, Theologik 1. Wahrheit der Welt, Johannes Verlag, 1985, p. 11-23 ; Phenomenology of the Truth. The Truth of the World, Beauchesne, 1952.[42] See I. de la Potterie, Christian exegesis today, Fayard, 2000, 220 p., especially J. Ratzinger, « The interpretation of the Bible in conflict. Fundamental problems and the contemporary direction of exegesis», pp. 65-109.[43] Pontifical Biblical Commission , Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, 1.[44] J. Ratzinger, « The interpretation of the Bible in conflict », in Christian exegesis today, Fayard, p. 65-109 ;I. De la Potterie, « Biblical exegesis, science of faith », in ibid., p. 111-160.[45] The interpretation of the Bible in the Church. Acts of the Symposium promoted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, September 1999, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001.[46] W. Kasper, op. cit., p. 11. « The spiritual reading of Scripture and scriptural exegesis are answers to the ecumenical and exegetic malaise»[47] H. de Lubac, Scripture in tradition, Aubier, 1966, p. 201. For a study of the overall teaching contribution made by de Lubac's father , cf. R.Voderholzer, Die Einheit Der Schrift Und Ihr Geistiger Sinn, Johannes, 1998, 564 p.[48] St. Thomas Aquinas, S. th. I, q. 1, a. 10, ad 1.[49] Pontifical Biblical Commission, Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, 2.B.1.[50] A. Vanhoye, op cit. p. 3-13.[51] Pontifical Biblical Commission, op. cit., 2.B.2.[52] H. U. v. Balthasar, « The Spiritual Sense of Scripture » in Christian Exegesis Today, op. cit., p. 184.[53] St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermons on the Song of Songs, 73, 2.[54] Benedict XV, Encycl. Spiritus Paraclitus, 15 Sept. 1920, E. B., 469; S. Jérôme, On the Epistle to the Galatians, 5, 19-21, PL 26, 417 A.[55] St. Theresa of Lisieux, Autobiography, B 1r°-v°; F.-M. Léthel, Know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, Carmel, 1989, 593p (The theology of saints as the science of love, p. 3-7).[56] H. U. v. Balthasar, « Actualité de Lisieux », conference at Notre-Dame de Paris, in Teresa of Lisieux, Centenary Conférence 1873-1973, special edition of Nouvelles de l'Institut catholique, p. 112.[57] H. U. v. Balthasar, « Only love is worthy of faith», Aubier, 1966, p. 11.[58] H. U. v. Balthasar, « The Glory and the Cross», t. 1, Aubier, 1961, p. 194.[59] A. Rotzetter, « Mystique and literal observation in the Gospel at the home of Francis of Assisi», in Concilium 169, 1981, p. 86.[60] Cf. M. Ouellet, « Adrienne von Speyr and the Saturday saint of theology» in Hans Urs von Balthasar - Stiftung Adrienne von Speyr and spiritual Theology, Johannes, 2002, 145 p., p. 31-56. [61] St. Francis de Sales, Letter CCXXIX [6 October 1604]: Œuvres XII, Annecy, Dom Henry Benedict Mackey, o.s.b., 1892-1932, p. 299-325.[62] J. Ratzinger - Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Flammarion, 2007, p. 8.[63] A. Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, Paideia, 1986 ; J. Jeremias, The Problem of the Historical Jesus, Paideia, 1973.[64] R. Burridge, What are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography. Cambridge, University press 1992.[65] J. Ratzinger- Benedict XVI, Op. cit., p.17.[66] Ibid. p. 19. [67] Cf. D. Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Jean-Claude Lattès, 2004, 574 p.[68] S. Gregory of Nyssa, 5th sermon on the Song of Songs[69] CELAM, « Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that in Him our people will have a life of plenitude» (Document of Aparecida), 5th Conference at Aparecida (Brasil) 13th to 31st May 2007.[70] H. U. v. Balthasar, « The Glory and the Cross», op. cit., p. 418.[71] UR and UUS ; see also W. Kasper, Manual of Spiritual Ecumenism , Nouvelle Cité, 2007, 96 p.[72] Benedict XVI, Speech The world awaits the shared testimony of the Christians(25.01.2007): L'Osservatore Romano, E.H.L.F. 5 (30.01.2007) p. 3.[73] Among others, communities and movements such as Sant'Egidio, Taizé, etc.[74] C. Lubich, Thought and Spirituality, Nouvelle Cité, 2003, 510 p.[75] M. Ouellet, Mary and the Coming of Ecumenism, Communio XXVIII, 1- Janvier-Février 2003, pp. 113-125 ; D.-I Ciobotea; B. Sesboue ; J.-N. Peres ; « Marie : L'oecuménisme à l'épreuve», L'actualité Religieuse dans le Monde, 1987, no46, pp. 17-24. [76] AG 11 ; EN 20 ; RM 3.[77] Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible, 2001 : J. Ratzinger, Préface, p. 12.[78] Ibid., nos 9, 11, 21-22,85-86.[79] AG 10.[80]As an example, the Biblia Clerus of the Congregation for the Clergy furnishes tools for the consultation that are truly precious, which are indebted to the Christian Bible written by Dom Claude-Jean Nesmy and Mother Élisabeth de Solms, Bénédictines de La Pierre qui Vire et Solesmes, published by Éditions Anne Sigier.[81] St. Siluane of Mount Athos, Spiritual Writings, Eastern Spirituality no 5, Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 1976/1994, p. 30.[82] St. Caesar of Arles, Sermons VIII, 1; (Cf. SC 175, p. 349-351).