Jesus Christ is “the Word” of God. The Holy Scriptures are “the Word” of God. What’s the difference? Is there a difference? A mystery is encountered when I try to grasp when or how this Word is Christ Himself or when or how it is the Spirit working with the actual words of Scripture to reveal Christ. At worship I am fed by both the Word of Christ (Eucharist) and the Words of the Scripture (Gospel) which manifest Christ. Alquin of York said that “Sacred Scripture is the table of Christ … where we are fed…” (Magrassi, 22). Thus, in encountering the paradox of this Word, I cannot understand the mystery so I that I might grow in my faith; I must always encounter Christ by faith to understand the mystery (cf. Anselm’s fides quarens intellectum).
Jesus said to the Pharisees, who seemed uninterested in wrestling with this mystery, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). To even have a possibility to understand this enigma requires faith in Christ. Magrassi said, “In the presence of divine realities (such as the Word) what counts most is faith. It alone can lead us into the mystery” (24).
So, to eat this mystery I need to simply relish the manna of the Word made flesh, even Christ, intermingling with the Word revealed as Scripture (John 6:29-35). My spirit must engage with the Spirit, so that, as St. Bernard says, I may consider, “not merely a word that ‘sounds in the ear,’ but a visible Word that our eyes may see him, a tangible Word that our hands may hold him… ” (Magrassi, 26).
As I reflect on this mystery, I realize I cannot bifurcate the two Words, to see them as separate. For me the mystery of the Word, which is at the same time both Christ and the Holy Scriptures cannot be represented as two sides of the same coin, which can be readily seen and understood, but by the quandary of the combination of God’s creative materials that make up that coin and which cannot be seen with my physical eyes, but known only with the eyes of faith. Thus to eat this mystery I must see “the hidden sense of Scripture. And always, there is only one mystery, the mystery of Christ” (Magrassi, 36).
Nevertheless, in eating this mystery, I do not hold up the “words” of Scripture as equal to the revelation of God in Christ, the Living Word. I do not want to fall into the trap of the biblicists, who see the Bible as “God’s highest self-revelation” (Smith, 117). Instead, like C.S. Lewis, I eat this mystery by understanding that, “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible read, in the right spirit, and with guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him” (Smith, 117). Magrassi says, “Guided by the Spirit, I must go beyond the letter to the depths of the mystery where I encounter him” (38).
This mystery then in God’s Word is inexhaustible. In it I find that there is “always something left to discover; [I] can always draw new water from its bottomless well” (Magrassi, 40). I will never go hungry when I continue to dine on the mystery of God’s Word. Yet, the Scriptures are not meant to be read like a serial novel that I rapidly chew so that I might swallow to get to the next bite. I must enjoy each Word, savor it, digest it. The Psalmist reminds me, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).
So, as I read the Word to reveal the Word made flesh, I must wonder in the Scriptures as a mysterious gift from God, “an immense gift, but only if the words are assimilated, taken into the soul — eaten, chewed, gnawed, received in unhurried delight” (Petersen, 11). When eating this mystery I am not at a fast-food establishment, but I am invited eternally to the wedding banquet—to the feast of the Lamb.
Magrassi, Mariano. Praying the Bible: An Introduction to Lectio Divina. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998. Print.
Petersen, Eugene H. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006. Print.
Smith, Christian. The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism is not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2011. Print.
The New American Standard Bible. The Lockman Foundation. Anaheim, CA: 1995. Print.