Paul’s reminder to Timothy plainly means to me all Scripture is written with the Holy Spirit breathing wisdom and knowledge into the minds of the writers and editors of the Gospels, as they interpret oral tradition from witnesses of actual events. In the same manner, the Jewish prophets in their writings responded to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who “spoke through the Prophets.”
Every word of Scripture is an expression of the Incarnate Word taken up and into Scripture’s human writers. Scripture, more than a reflection of history’s processes, more than a witness to the Word, lives in the very being of God. Its language is eternal.
How should we read Scripture so the plain truth embedded in the message emerges and sheds light on the meaning for us and inspires us? I think a good beginning is to clear out the noises of the day and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and patience. Reading the Bible can be daunting when our purpose is to try to comprehend and understand how the message in the text relates to our inner spiritual life and our relationship to others and to the world around us.
How do we interpret biblical texts from a personal perspective that would affect our lives? How do we internalize the meanings of the events depicted in the narratives: from Abraham forward and from witnesses to Jesus’ life and ministry? How do what we see as imperatives from our interpretation of biblical texts operate in our daily lives?
Lectio Divina, divine reading, is a meditative way of reading the Bible. “Divine reading” can make it less daunting and will help answer those “how” questions.
Seek out the “plain meaning” of the biblical text. Not every passage of Scripture should be interpreted literally. To find the real message in the narrative or the event depicted we may have to excavate the true meaning when the author uses allegories or metaphors or parables. Importance is not given to the actual story but to a perceived deeper meaning behind the story.
Lectio Divina is a way of arriving at a truth, a way to look for the moral aspects behind any text, to unwind the multiple layers of meanings.
We concentrate with intentional breathing in the Holy Spirit. We open ourselves, our very being, to what we perceive God is saying to us. It may be that each one of us see different meanings. We are all on our own journey.
Practice the five Steps of Lectio Divina:
Reading. Read a passage slowly and carefully.
Meditation. Think deeply, dwell on what you see as the spiritual reality within the text.
Prayer. Pray to the Holy Spirit, immerse yourself in her presence, asking for wise discernment. Have a loving conversation with God.
Contemplation. Meditate on the meanings you perceive in the text. Reflect on how that affects your life; what real actions for you are implied in the text. Then Rest in God’s presence.