The life we live is permeated by Holy Scripture; it has a central place in our worship, our preaching, our meditation and reading, and our study. Through the scriptures the living voice of God is continually active to convert, nourish and transform us. The more we open ourselves to their riches, the more we have to share with others. And the more we open the scriptures to others, the more we discover in them for our own lives.
In the Daily Office and the eucharistic liturgy of the word, Scripture is continually absorbed into our beings as we pray the psalter and canticles and listen to the readings and preaching. In our worship the Spirit sometimes touches us immediately through a word, an image or a story; there and then we experience the Lord speaking to us. But we shall often go unaware of the ways in which the images and words of Scripture are seeping into the deepest level of our hearts. These hearts of ours are not empty vessels but inner worlds alive with images, memories, experiences and desires. It is the Spirit dwelling within us who brings the revelation of Scripture into a vital encounter with our inmost selves, and brings to birth new meaning and life. Gradually we become aware of the deep resources of truth that this inner process of revelation has formed in us, and are able to draw upon them for our own needs and for the building up of others in ministry. The effect of the scriptures upon us in the liturgy is largely subliminal, but this fact does not justify inattentiveness. We should take care to read the scriptures with a clarity and energy that does justice to our love for them, and to listen as attentively as we can.
In our personal lives of prayer we shall feed on the scriptures and trust in expectant faith that God will be present in them for us. If the Spirit draws us to ways of meditation and prayer that do not directly engage with the scriptures, then we would be wise to keep ourselves open to them by means of reading and study. Often the scriptures will become most vivid and alive to us as we prepare to expound them in preaching and teaching. However, we need to guard against the temptation to let our call to preach become the chief motive for investigating the scriptures. We should learn to listen to the needs of our own hearts and search the scriptures for our own healing and revival.
The disciplines of critical biblical study and the spiritual appropriation of Holy Scripture in the heart are commonly treated as incompatible or kept separate. Our community bears a valuable witness in the Church when we demonstrate that intellectual honesty and contemplative openness belong together in our life with Scripture.
If we are truly called by God into this Society we can be sure that the Gospel of John will be an unfailing source of life and light for us. If we become intimately familiar with it by prayer and study, its riches will prove to be limitless. In times of difficulty, when we are tempted to turn away, we should trust that this gospel will be our rock and mainstay. Entering into it again we shall find ourselves praying the words of Simon Peter to Christ, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”