Sunday, November 14, 2010

Verbum Domini -- Some themes from theology of the body in Pope Benedict's new document

In reading the first part of Verbum Domini I couldn't help but notice some themes that relate to TOB. For example:

As his [Jesus'] mission draws to an end, according to the account of Saint John, Jesus himself clearly relates the giving of his life to the sending of the Spirit upon those who belong to him (cf. Jn 16:7). The Risen Jesus, bearing in his flesh the signs of the passion, then pours out the Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22), making his disciples sharers in his own mission (cf. Jn 20:21)....
The word of God is thus expressed in human words thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit. The missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit are inseparable and constitute a single economy of salvation. The same Spirit who acts in the incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary is the Spirit who guides Jesus throughout his mission and is promised to the disciples. The same Spirit who spoke through the prophets sustains and inspires the Church in her task of proclaiming the word of God and in the preaching of the Apostles; finally, it is this Spirit who inspires the authors of Sacred Scripture.

The first sentence above relating the giving of Jesus' life to the sending of the Spirit reminds me of the themes discussed in the previous post about the Easter candle. There I tried to show that the symbolism of the candle and the baptismal water represents Christ sending the Spirit on the Church. It's interesting that in this document, Pope Benedict draws a parallel between the Spirit overshadowing Mary to bring forth the Incarnate Word, and the Spirit overshadowing the Church in proclaiming the Word.

Pope Benedict goes further with this parallel when he speaks of biblical inspiration:

A key concept for understanding the sacred text as the word of God in human words is certainly that of inspiration. Here too we can suggest an analogy: as the word of God became flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, so Sacred Scripture is born from the womb of the Church by the power of the same Spirit. Sacred Scripture is “the word of God set down in writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.” In this way one recognizes the full importance of the human author who wrote the inspired texts and, at the same time, God himself as the true author.

This beautiful comparison also brings out the Marian dimension involved.

The Pope also speaks specifically about the nuptial mystery:

what we call the Old and New Covenant is not a contract between two equal parties, but a pure gift of God. By this gift of his love God bridges every distance and truly makes us his “partners,” in order to bring about the nuptial mystery of the love between Christ and the Church. In this vision every man and woman appears as someone to whom the word speaks, challenges and calls to enter this dialogue of love through a free response.

The theme of "gift" is a major theme of TOB. Pope Benedict is reminding us here that God is the source of all gift; before we can make a gift of self, we receive the gift of our own being from God as our Creator.

There's much more in this document. It's a real goldmine of Catholic teaching about the Sacred Scriptures.

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