Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Bible - God Speaks and a People Listen and Answer (Part 2 of 3)

Christians confess that everything found in the Bible is God’s Word; in other words, that all texts contained in the Bible were inspired by the Holy Spirit and, therefore, are Scriptures in which God reveals himself and communicates with us. Even more, we confess that “God reveals himself in history” (DV2). But . . . what is the significance of all the truths of our faith? . . . how to understand and to confess them reasonably? Let us see:

What God does is “to create”. In other words, God communicates and “expends His time” creating . . . and creates man in his image and likeness. And so, as the table, made from pine, has tendencies and “looks like” the pine wood: texture, color, streaks, smell, etc., the same way man, “creature” or “creation” of God has, because of it, “divine tendencies”, “resemblance to God” such as: tendency to be good, to be pure, to be truthful, to be noble, to be perfect, to be beautiful, to solidarity, to happiness, to life, to justice, to peace, to love, and finally: tendency towards “the good”, the same as God is “good”.

The answer of man to God’s creative action consist in the taking of conscience --through prayer-- of being a creation and behaving accordingly. In other words, it is for man happily grateful, to live understanding and manifesting “the divine” that is in him, acting “the good and proper way”.

We Christians confess Jesus as “God’s divine Verb made man”, “Word of the Father”, “zenith and peak manifestation of God”, “true God and true Man”; because man, in a perfect way, is totally “divine” for being profoundly “human”, and is fully “human” for being truly “divine”. Said in other words, God’s incarnation in Christ means that in Him, the profoundly human is profoundly divine and/or is made divine and the divine becomes profoundly human.

This is the vocation, the calling, the work, the original mission of every man; and the answer to the unceasing search for happiness: to become a true “image and likeness” of God, revealing Him”, and to be creatures similar to the Creator.

If this is the first vocation of man, it is so much more for us who call ourselves “Christians”; since, as followers of Jesus, the Son, we have become “children”, similar to our Father in heaven: “Perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect”, showing perfect love as he loves us with perfect love.

Therefore, to us Christians corresponds, personally and through the church, to be the revealing space/time of God as we follow the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; and we do it: for Him, with Him and in Him, until God becomes “all in all”. Because of that we confess him as our “Way, Truth and Life”. To us corresponds to “Christianize” ourselves, so that being “sons in the Son” and in his “image and semblance” we are able to become “the image and semblance of the Father”.

Even more so, this is the resurrection with Christ: the work that the crucified does in us, transforming (converting) our lives and shaping it with the Gospel until he transforms us into new men, capable of calling God “Father”, as Christ himself called him and taught us to do.

But man, in the intelligent and free exercise of its existence is able -–different from the table and the pine, because God did not make us objects or marionettes-- to negate or reject “the divine” which is in us (as children of God). In this way appears evil in the world, which in Christian theology we call “sin”.

On the contrary, as it was already said, exercising his first vocation, man is able to untie everything he has of God, and in that way he can convert himself into God’s “revealing” space. From there, the word of a man and/or woman (which has taken conscience of being a creation, resurrected in Christ) is the “human” word but --because of that and at the same time-- is also the “divine” word or word of God; and its acts (DV2) are heroic human deeds and, therefore, acts in which God is revealed, and communicated. In that way, man and its history, will be God’s revealing time/space per excellence.

The Bible, then, is the “Word of God”: “Word revealed/inspired by the Holy Spirit of God”. It is also “human” word (spoken and/or written), proceeding from men and/or communities, which, taking conscience of being creations of God, revealed “the divine” and confess God as companion of their history and/or protagonist in it. Also, the divine and written revelation –made into Cannon-- is consigned in the Bible; but God continues to create, to communicate his saving designs, to manifest himself in the words and acts of men and in the history of the communities and the people who “reveal” him.

We Christians are men and women of the New Testament (27 books). Nevertheless, the Bible cannon contains the Old Testament (46 books) that deal with the history of a people: Israel. It is worth it for us to ask ourselves now: Why should we study the Old Testament if we are not Jewish, but Christians? . . . if we are no longer in the Old, but in the New Testament? And besides, why study the history of a specific people: the Israel of the Old Testament?

Reading the Old Testament we will verify, in each of its pages, that Israelites are “religious” people. We will understand, then, that they are a people, capable of having daily and permanent “relations” with “their” God, throughout their history. Israel confesses the presence of God in their history; they see their history as a space/time in which God reveals himself; and they see themselves as a country where the saving designs of God happen at the same time that God “reveals” them.

For example, and because of that, when an Israeli or the whole country wishes to know what is the communication, the wish and/or the Word of God, they go to the prophets, --who are for the people, in fact, the transparent, the word (the oracle) of God (of Yahweh). In other words, men and women who have taken conscience of being a creation (called by God “from the womb of their mothers”) “reveal” God when in their lives they realize the “revelation” process explained before.

Because of that, we as Christians read the Old Testament as the history of the people of Israel which is human history but, because of that and at the same time, “saving history”. It is worth bringing up the fact that it is history in which God has revealed --especially through the prophets-- his plan of salvation.

More still, Israel is seen and confessed as the people chosen by God”, “property and nation” of God, “sheep of his flock”. It was Yahweh and “not somebody else”, who “brought them out of Egypt” with His strength and powerful hand; who took them through the desert to the land “of milk and honey”; and who accompanied them --between apparent remembrances and forgotten alliances-- to better times, when the promised and expected Messiah appears.

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