It’s been a long time, but I’ll write about that in a little while. In the section of the Catechism we’re now starting we see the Church’s stand on the Scriptures brought into revealing light. All too often it seems we’ll hear someone say that Catholics ignore the Scriptures in favor of human traditions. Sadly – very, very sadly I would say – too many Catholics are entirely unfamiliar with the Sacred Page and believe this ages old tale. Despite the fact that most Catholics couldn’t begin to hold a candle to Protestants in a chapter-and-verse argument if you look even the smallest bit under the covers that fact is not because the Church wants it that way but rather in spite of the Church’s constant call to greater familiarity with the Scriptures. There will come a time when we’ll talk about just how much Scripture Catholics are exposed to, quite often without even knowing it, through weekly – and even moreso daily – Mass attendance, but for now our focus is on this small section of the Catechism.
What does the Church teach about the Scriptures? If I had to boil it down to a short statement, I’d have to say CCC #107 encompasses almost all of it:
The inspired books teach the truth. “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.” (DV 11)
You know, now that I think about it, that seems kind of clinical – accurate, but in a somewhat sterile way. Perhaps this says it better, “In order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words” (CCC #101). How much, the Church says, does God love us? So much that He brings Himself down to our very level that we might know Him. He does that which would seem impossible – He makes the Infinite conform to finite forms – God expresses Himself in words, culminating in the one single Word that is spoken of throughout Scripture, the Word of God Himself, Jesus Christ.
This last point is, perhaps, uniquely important. As CCC #108 says so well, “the Christian faith is not a ‘religion of the book’. Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word’ of God, a word which is ‘not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living.’” (St. Bernard, S. missus est hom.) The Scriptures must lead us to newfound knowledge of and love for Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. And that knowledge of and love for Christ will lead us to dive ever-deeper into the written Word God has deigned to leave for His people. I rather enjoy that symmetry.