Synod on the Word of God

by Nuria Calduch-Benages

The XII Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, at which I have had the good fortune of participating in the capacity of expert, was concluded with a solemn celebration of the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. After spending three weeks of profound reflection on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, the meditation on Psalm 18 given by the Holy Father on the morning of Monday, 6th October, when the Synod had only just been opened, still resounds in my heart: “...the true reading of the Holy Scripture, is not only a literary phenomenon, not only reading a text. It is the movement of my existence. It is moving towards the Word of God in the human words. Only by conforming to the Mystery of God, to the Lord who is the Word, can we enter within the Word, can we truly find the Word of God in human words.... By entering into the Word of God, we really enter into the divine universe. We depart from our limited experiences and we enter into the reality that is truly universal. By entering into communion with the Word of God, we enter into communion with the Church that is the living Word of God. We do not enter into a small group, with the rules of a small group, but rather, we depart from our own limitations. We go out into open space, into the true breadth of the one truth, the great truth of God. We find ourselves truly on the universal plane. And so by going out, we enter into communion with all our brothers and sisters, with the whole of humanity, because in our hearts is hidden the desire for the Word of God, that is one.

For three weeks, hour after hour, the Word of God was at the centre of the interventions in the hall, of the debates in the minor circles and also in the breaks, where, in an informal way, an exchange of ideas, impressions, and expectations could take place, and it was possible to respond to the questions of the journalists who were following daily this great, ecclesial event. Communicating the Word of God is the mission of the Church, it is her first task. The Word, heard and welcomed with faith in the Church, does not remain enclosed in the environment of the faithful, but rather it impels believers to announce the Gospel generously to all, without excluding anybody.

Pastors’ concern for the spreading of the Word among the People of God emerged with great strength and vitality. Despite the numerous problems noted (the poor level of homilies, difficulties in reading the Old Testament, the split between exegesis and theology, the “fundamentalist” interpretation of biblical texts, the growth and metamorphosis of the phenomenon of sects, situations of poverty, marginalisation, war and persecution in some nations, and especially in South America, Africa and Asia, the scarcity of Bibles and the lack translations into local languages...) it was possible to see a strong desire to confront the difficulties, to work together, to share resources, so that the Word of God, as desired in Dei Verbum, might be accessible to as many people as possible.

The Holy Spirit created an ecclesial environment of communion, with a fraternal air of searching that favoured the active participation of all the members, each one in accordance with what was required of him. In total, 253 Synod Fathers, 40 experts, and 37 auditors worked all together under the wise guidance of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, so that not only the Word of God might reach the ends of the earth, but that it might also, and above all, express its “performative” validity, ie its capability to transform the lives of believers and of all people of good will. In a generalised context of secularisation, which is no longer limited to western countries, the Synod showed itself to be an event of grace, truly capable of re-proposing personal and communitarian encounter with Jesus, the Word made flesh.

Let me end this editorial making my own the words of Mons. Gianfranco ravasi: “Dear brothers and sisters, protect the Bible in your homes, read it, deepen in it, and fully understand its pages; transform it into prayer and witness of life, listen to it with love and faith in the liturgy. Create the silence needed to hear the Word of the Lord effectively, and conserve that silence after hearing, because it will continue to dwell in you, live in you and speak to you. Make the start of your day resound so that God has the first word, and let that word resound within you until the night so that the last word is also God’s” (Message from the Synod summary).

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