On this week's programme we continue our Year of Faith reflection on the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, as well as our usual reflection on the Gospel and outlining our celestial guides for the week ahead. This week's full programme is available HERE.
The book we are using as the basis for our programmes on Dei Verbum is a wonderfully accessible and insightful book by Canon John Redford called Treasures of Dei Verbum. It has the text of Dei Verbum on the left hand side of the page and an explanation of the text on the right hand side of the page. It is available from Alive Publishing (www.alivepublishing.co.uk)
On our first programme we outlined what Dei Verbum was all about i.e. the bishops of the Second Vatican Council saw the need to place more emphasis on the goal of divine revelation. The whole point of divine revelation is to give us all a share in the divine life, fellowship, communion with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the Holy Spirit. This is the good news we have to give to the world.
In this week's programme, our attention turns to chapter 2 and chapter 3 of Dei Verbum.
Chapter 2 looks at 'Handing on Divine Revelation'. Dei Verbum refers us to the teaching of the Council of Trent (1546) because it wants to reiterate Trent's teaching that Jesus Christ himself is the fullness of revelation and that Jesus gave his revelation, not in the form of a book, but to twelve men who were to preach the Gospel. The word 'Gospel' is not restricted to those preaching from the bible alone, but means the whole package of revelation. The apostles transmitted faithfully this whole teaching of Christ before any of it was written down.
The Church is an apostolic church in that the bishops continue to represent the apostles as the guardians of living Tradition and of Scripture. Dei Verbum makes it clear that the Magisterium (Teaching Office of the Church) "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" (DV 10)
Chapter 3 examines 'Sacred Scripture, its inspiration and divine interpretation'. The Second Vatican Council in clear in stating that Scripture "must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation" (DV 11). In other words, the Scriptures contain no error in that they say exactly and no more what God wanted to say for our salvation.
The bible is not so much a book as a library of books, and, as such, contain many different types of 'literary forms' e.g. poetry, historical narratives, epistles (letters), farewell discourses, statements of belief etc. The interpreter of Scripture must look at Scripture in the light of the contemporary literary forms of the writers of Scripture in accordance with the situations of their own time and cultures, way of speaking, styles of writing etc. However, the Church's understanding of what God is saying to us is not limited to the historical method. There is also a spiritual sense of Scripture, that meaning which God wants to convey to us through the Holy Spirit.
The last paragraph of chapter 3 speaks of God's marvellous 'condescension'. Sometimes when we think of the word condescending, we think of it is an insult, but in this context it shows God's fatherly love for us in sending his Son to us to reveal his great love for us.
You can listen to the Dei Verbum section of this programme HERE.
- Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) - Second Vatican Council
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church - Pontifical Biblical Commission
- SS102fm page on Lectio Divina
- The website of the 2005 Dei Verbum international conference organized jointly by the Catholic Biblical Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. The website is in various languages and has links and many articles for reference and further reading.
- One of the highly regarded series of commentaries written about the documents of Vatican II was a 1967 series written by a young German theologian named Joseph Ratzinger. The link to an extract from the commentary on Dei Verbum is here.
- Short summary of Dei Verbum here
All of the readings for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time tell us that salvation is for everyone. God desires to give every single human being a share in divine life, however, the Gospel warns us against taking God for granted and becoming complacent in our relationship with him.
We know from our human relationships, that they take time and effort. How easy it is to grow apart from friends when we don't make the effort to keep in touch.
Yes, today's Gospel is not an easy one, but the Second Reading reminds us that God is treating us like his children and sometimes children need a little reminder when they are going astray (cf. Heb 12:5-7). Let us take this opportunity to reflect on our relationship with God. Do we take God for granted? Do we work on our relationship with God, or do we sometimes think that just because I'm a Catholic, I'm automatically going to heaven? Do we seek to deepen our love for God and our charity towards others, or have we become complacent, letting other worries and cares distract us? As Jesus said, let us strive to enter through the narrow door. If we have become distant from God, treating him almost like a penpal or someone we only run to when we are in trouble, let us get in contact with him again today. He cannot wait to hear from us.
Reflections on this week's Gospel:
Word on Fire
Centre for Liturgy
Blue Eyed Ennis
Liturgical Odds and Ends
Liturgy of the Hours - Psalter Week 1 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saints of the Week
August 27th - St. Monica
August 28th - St. Augustine of Hippo (Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
August 29th - The Passion of St. John the Baptist
August 30th - St. Fiacre (Monk)
August 31st - St. Aidan of Lindisfarne (Bishop and Missionary)