By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, September 4, 2009

How to Read the Word

Fr. Philippe has told us that, unless we read the Word, we end up adopting false identities. Who wants that? So here is how he recommends that we approach the Scriptures:

1. Pray and invoke the Holy Spirit because "humble, persevering, confident prayer is the basis of all exegesis" (p. 52). If the Word is the breath of the Holy Spirit, then it makes perfect sense to invoke the Holy Spirit and ask him to fill us up so we can see and understand what the Spirit is saying.

2. Be certain that God speaks to you personally in the Scriptures.

3. Desire conversion, that is, that the Word may reveal your sins and defects to you so that you will be changed for the better. There are too many of us religious people, running around very busily, who fail to get the personality healing we desperately need. Those around us are aware of this problem. Here is a good quote: "Reading Scripture is taking a risk: that we will be asked to reorder our lives or told things we don't want to hear. We do not work on the Bible. It works on us"" (54).

4. Confirm any personal messages "with important implications for one's life" with a "spiritual guide" (55). "Interpretations that are overly literal or fundamentalist or ignore ecclesial communion [that is, our union with the Catholic Church] are to be avoided. Any understanding of the Word should be reasonable--not narrowly rationalistic, but open to mystery, enlightened by faith, and in harmony with the thinking of the Church" (55).