By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Neither is God’s word just an idea, a doctrine, an ideology. It’s not just a strategy, a culture or a lifestyle. Of course, God’s word involves all these, but unless we understand God’s word as Christ himself, the God who became man to reveal to us all that we need to know, all that we need to do to be God’s image and likeness as God wants us to be, we will miss the real essence and character of God’s word.
We have to realize that the word of God cannot be separated from God himself. That’s because God is so perfect as to be in absolute simplicity. As such, God has no parts, no aspects, no quality or property that are distinct from his very being. His word and his being are just one. There is no distinction at all in him.
Of course, from our point of view, we cannot help but to describe God according to our own terms and ways that cannot help but make distinctions between the essence of a being and its properties and qualities. But in himself, God does not have distinction between his essence and the properties that we attribute to him.
Of course, this is a mystery, a supernatural truth that our reason cannot fully fathom. That is why we need to have a strong faith to be able to accept this truth. And once we accept by faith the absolute unity between God and his word, then we will realize that reading and meditating on the gospel is actually having a living encounter with God through Christ.
Thus, St. Jerome, a father of the Church, once said that to read the Scripture is to converse with God—“If you pray, you speak with the Spouse. If you read, it is he who speaks to you,” he said.
Only when we realize that God’s word is Christ himself and that reading it is like having an encounter with Christ can God’s word truly be as the Letter to the Hebrews described it: “Alive and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (4,12)
Only then can God’s word handle any situation and predicament we can encounter in life, since God is everything to us and takes care of everything. Only then can it truly be fruitful as said in that parable of the sower and the seed. (cfr. Mt 13,1-23)
Of course, we have to be that good, rich soil referred to in that parable. Otherwise, no matter how powerfully effective God’s word is, if the reader of that word does not have the right condition, that word would have no effect. It would fail to produce fruit, “thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold,” as Christ assured us.
That means that we should handle the word of God with great faith and piety. We should not just treat it as some literary or historical or cultural reading. We have to realize that we are listening to Christ and that what we hear from him should be taken very seriously.
That means that we have to involve our whole being when reading God’s word. It should not just be an intellectual affair, though we have to make full use of our intelligence and all our other faculties when reading and meditating on it.
We have to put ourselves as one more character in any episode that God’s word presents to us. This is always possible since God’s word is eternal and will always remain relevant, alive and active, in any period of time.
Of course, since God’s word comes to us clothed in some human terms, we have to know how to handle the limitations that its human aspect will always have, so that we would not miss its divine and supernatural character.