One of the best ways we can celebrate this Year of Faith is to immerse ourselves in the word of God. Pope Benedict XVI begins his new apostolic letter Porta Fidei or The Door of Faith to initiate the Year of Faith by describing the word of God as the threshold.
“The ‘door of faith’ (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace. To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime.”(Porta Fidei 1)
In proclaiming the word of God or listening to its proclamatio, we cross that threshold and enter into communion with God. That’s the first action done with our voice and ears.
Listening, reading, proclaiming the word brings us closer to God and closer to holiness. What we feed our minds affects our holiness. We can change the channel on the media we take in. We can turn it off and immerse ourselves in the word of God, reminding ourselves of his promises, and keeping his faithful word in our thoughts.
The joy of the Lord is found in the manifestation of his presence. He uses whatever it takes to woo us to his heart. The word is one of the ways the presence of God captures us when we are humble and open enough. So the second part of crossing the threshold of the door of faith is the heart action of opening our hearts to God’s shaping sword of transforming grace.
“The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).
The anointed writers of Scripture penned the words of the Lord as they understood his message. Although confined by human limitations, they wrote through the lens of their great faith.
We experience Jesus, the Living Word of God, when we read, listen to or proclaim scripture through our own lens of faith. We can proactively live in God’s presence by spending time with him in his word.
Sometimes we find adventure stories of daring escapes, fierce battles or tragic defeats. The Living Word, reveals how he knows we have the same spiritual challenges and ordeals in our culture. He quickens our hearts with insight to apply his word to our circumstances. He rejoices in our narrow escapes, supports us in our ongoing battles and consoles us in our heart-rending defeats.
We get to know his character with each verse of Scripture, as he reveals himself to us through his words and deeds. We find his love letters to us as he professes his unconditional love for us even in our waywardness. He sings the Song of Songs to us, seeking our heart and wrapping us in his embrace.
We get to know his ways, so unlike our own. He plants subtle hints between the story lines. Then spells out specific commandments or practical Proverbs. He sends us the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and help us uncover his unique plans for our lives.
We get to know ourselves by comparing our capabilities and vulnerabilities to those of the Bible personalities. Through intuition we know in our heart what remedies apply to our lives. "The Holy Bible is like a mirror before our mind's eye. In it we see our inner face,” St. Gregory the Great writes. “We can learn our spiritual deformities and beauties. And there too we discover the progress we are making and how far we are from perfection."
We persevere as his loyal followers and disciples through the Living Word. “Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,’” (John 8:31). Jesus, the Living Word, instructs us in how to proclaim his kingdom in our world when we continually consult his written Word.
The Living Word sets us free, as he himself promises us the next verse, John 8:32, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Come into his presence in his word and discover joy. The Living Word has the power to save us, to free us, to guide us, to reveal God to us and us to ourselves. The power of the Living Word can form in our open hearts the capacity to receive all the Holy Spirit wants to complete in us.
For a free brochure giving a one-year plan for reading the Bible and Catechism, download a pdf cheat sheet from: chnetwork.org/resources (scroll down through Free Resources).