Monday, November 16, 2015

Revelation, Attitude and Action of the Family of Friends

The Lower Church at the Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth
November 18 this year marks fifty years since the constitution Dei Verbum, "The Word of God," was solemnly taught by Vatican II. Revelation is the story and song of us people and angels together and singly now in time and always in eternity. Revelation is the action of our merciful Father through His beloved Child, our Jesus of Mary and Joseph, by His Breath, revealing and gracing us to be His family, His city, His kingdom of friends (Jn 15, Ex 33), not isolation of enemies, opening His Heart for us. His action calls for our action, our graced free yes totally of mind and heart, not our free, sinful no. This is the new and final covenant.

"Lake of Gennesaret" by Nicholas Roerich, via WikiArt
The action of our merciful Father through Jesus by His Breath began with our creation, was renewed after our sin early on in our need with His promise of our redemption through Israel and the Messiah and the fulfillment through Jesus and His gathering His Church, the new Israel, for His world. His revealing and gracing action through Jesus in His Church is handed on through tradition and scripture. Tradition is the followers of Jesus hearing the apostles and breaking bread and sharing and praying together (Acts 2). This tradition was written in twenty-seven books, now called the scriptures of the New Testament, by six apostles and two apostolic men: Matthew, John, Paul, James, Peter, Jude, Mark (connected to Peter), and Luke (connected to Paul). These human writers were inspired by the principal writer, the Holy Breath of Jesus from His Father. Because these writings are so inspired, they are truthful in their proclaiming the way of our salvation. They are interpreted humanly according to their aim, their form of communication, and as part of the whole of scripture, and as inspired by the guidance of the apostles and their successors the bishops, shepherds of the gathering of the followers of Jesus.

The New Testament scriptures include the identity and life and mission of Jesus and the identity and life and mission of His early followers and friends. They are historical in their truthfulness and faithfulness to the realities they express, not necessarily in details of the time and place of each event. They involve accounts of Jesus and His early followers, letters of some of their leaders, and the promise of their future and present. Jesus and His followers accepted the Jewish scriptures that are accounts of the creation of the universe and the human family, of our sin early on and the promise of our redemption, of the formation and development of the people of Israel, the promise of their prophets, the guidance of their sages.

The Garden Tomb, photographed by Phillip Benshmuel, via Wikimedia Commons
Scripture, the seventy-three books—forty-six of the Old Testament and twenty-seven of the New Testament—is at the center of the life and mission of the Church, the gathered and sent followers and friends of Jesus. They need to be made readily available to people with encouragement to hear and read them. They are a necessary source for our thought and prayer and service, for homilies and catechesis and theology. Word and sacrament go together.

The teaching of Vatican II on revelation is preceded by that of Vatican I, Dei Filius, "The Son of God." As John Paul II explains in his encyclical Fides et ratio, "Faith and Reason," revelation is viewed in Vatican I in its nature of transforming gift and in Vatican II in its role for our salvation. St. Thomas reflects on the act of faith inwardly as involving credere Deo, credere Deum, credere in Deum (II-II, q. 2, a. 2): believing God revealing, believing God revealed, believing in God revealed. To believe means to trust God revealing to us, to believe what He reveals to us, to live our trust and beliefs with love and justice and chastity. We trust and believe and live in God our Father and in His Child Our Jesus and in His Holy Breath. This is our outward confession and profession of faith in the Apostles Creed, in the Nicene-Constantinople Creed that we pray and sing often liturgically. This is our story and song. This is the meaning and goal of our life and history. As Their family of friends, we make ours the attitude of the Family of Friends that is our merciful Father and His Child our Jesus of Mary and Joseph and His Holy Breath, our Lover and His beloved Word our Jesus and His Love.
Father Don

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