Contemplating the importance of the Word of God
We live in a global village where we are easily connected with one another through social media. Why take the trouble to meet a person face-to-face or make a phone call when you can just send an email or handphone message? Sometimes we get so caught up in this virtual reality that we relate quite impersonally to those around us, including our family and friends.
It is common today to see family having meals together with eyes fixed on their handphones rather than on the people in front of them. This could then lead us to relate to one another on a functional level – meaning what a person can do for us, rather than on a relational level – which is, who the person is to us.
In this same regard, how do we relate to God? Is it at a functional or relational level?
God’s Word is Relational
The Word of God is not just a mental concept or an idea or an expression of a thought. It is a living person, “someone you can touch with your hands, and hear with your ears and see with your own eyes.” (1 John 1:1). The Apostles were very sure that what they passed on to us are not “myths” or cleverly invented stories or legends or philosophy or some political system or theory, but someone with whom they had an intimate relationship with and of whom they were witnesses of (2 Peter 1:16).
And such a living personal relationship which brings joy. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” He adds that we can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer and in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ’s Heart and feel Him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we truly become Christians.”
Whenever the Word of God is mentioned, remember that we are speaking of a living person, not a concept. So, each time we pick up the Bible, we are getting in touch with Jesus who speaks to us. He wants to have a personal relationship and He is the Author of Life. In the liturgy, “Christ is present in His Word”. “This mystery (of faith), then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that (we) live from it a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer.”
Using our Heart
We use our heads to read the newspapers, magazines, or to acquire more knowledge. However, we do not enter into a personal relationship with books, magazines or newspapers. We do not talk to them.
But when we read the Word of God, we come with our hearts open to receive Him (John 1:1, 12). We read or study the Word of God as much with our hearts, as with our heads. So, when we read the Bible, we are entering into a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus.
Alive in the Holy Spirit
There is a close relationship between the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she was specially chosen by God to become the mother of the Most High (Luke 1:32).
She could not understand how she could become a mother when she was still a virgin. The angel Gabriel assured her saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).
The same process goes on in the Sacrifice of the Mass. The priest invokes the Holy Spirit to come down on the bread and wine and together with the words of consecration, the Holy Spirit changes these elements into the Body and Blood of Christ.
In a similar way, the Holy Spirit indwelt the womb of Mary and the Word took upon Himself flesh and blood. Thus, Jesus the Eternal Word of God is made present and dwells among us. Where there is the Holy Spirit, there is the Word of God and where there is the Word of God, there is the Holy Spirit.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God enters into a living personal relationship with Mary. Like Mary, our whole person must be open to receive the Holy Spirit for the Word of God to become flesh in us. Like Mary told the angel Gabriel, “Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). When the Word of God is acted upon, it releases its inherent power so that our lives will be touched, renewed and filled with new energy and power. The atom must be split to release its energy within.
A bottle of perfume must be open to release its fragrance. If it is not opened, there is no aroma. It is the same with the Word of God. We need the Holy Spirit so that we can discover and open the hidden treasures of the Word of God.
“Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” The Christian life is not simply functional, but relational. It is an encounter with the living person of Jesus who wants to relate to us personally and intimately, enabling us to see all things from God’s point of view, to have a divine perspective on all things.
He wants to give us life and life in all its fullness (John 10:10). Reading the Bible with our hearts in the power of the Holy Spirit will keep us in touch with Jesus, enabling us to see what he sees, to think what he thinks, and to desire what he desires, to feel what he feels. Like Peter, let us say to him, “To whom shall we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).
Contributed by the Regional Biblical Commission
 Pope Benedict XVI, Message for the Twenty-Sixth World Youth Day (2011).
 Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience (3 September 2008).
 Sacrosanctum Concilium (Dogmatic Constitution on Sacred Liturgy), 7.
 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558.
 Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 7.