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Formed by the Word

A commentary on the formative element of Sacred Scripture

Reading Scripture is not simply information, it is formation - God is shaping our thoughts and feelings through the words, God is re-aligning our own worldview to become closer to his will. We usually resist because of two deeply engrained tendencies:

- the first one is that we want to do it our way, we know better than anyone else in the world what should be done, we are absolutely certain of this, we will hang on to it with all our obstinate energy; plus this is the way we have always done it, it's too late to change, basically it's my way or the highway …

- another standard line of resistance is that we want to do what everybody else is doing, we want to do what is popular, what is all over the news, why should we be different? Call it trend or fashion, peer pressure or the herd mentality, we don't want to be asked to do more. Why should we be expected to be better?

So in the end, all our good reasons and self-justification are the same, all excuses look alike. It takes a lot of humility and gentleness, a lot of attentiveness and flexibility, to be truly open to change. But if there is one way it can happen, it is through the Living Word. It is downright a minor miracle whenever it does happen but the record is absolutely amazing. Again and again, throughout history and in every corner of the world, God's Word is shaping us. Some changes are public knowledge and are recorded in the lives of the saints and heroes of the faith. Most other changes are done very quietly and simply. We know it is happening even though we are not always able to articulate it ourselves but we do know that a change has happened and that it is for the best. And how can we tell? Where are the fruits? In the small improvement in our relationships, at home or at work, in the small progress that we make toward the health of our body and mind and soul - which will in turn radiate out to the health of the world… The wonderful news is that these small changes have a cumulative effect. And that is why reading and meditating Scriptures on our own, discovering it in Bible study class or sharing it in prayer groups, listening to the Word of Life in Church and letting it shape our mind and our heart is the very best way to grow.

It is powerful and decisive, it is personal growth with a public dimension (since we exist and blossom in our relationships to others) and it is definitively a life-long formative process.


Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filthiness and growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your soul.
(James 1:19-21)


If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
(John 15:7-8)


And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
(John 1:14)



The beginning line "Reading Scripture is not simply information, it is formation - God is shaping our thoughts and feelings through these words"
is from The Little Blue Book, Avent 2009 - 2010 I read it this morning and this is what got me to write the comments above...



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