Advent Reading

The Synod of Bishops held in October 2008 was dedicated to "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." Yesterday the Vatican released Pope Benedict's "Apostolic Exhortation: Verbum Domini," that reflects upon and presents the deliberations of the Synod.It is a long document, touching upon many dimensions of its subject, and geared to meditative rather than to speed reading. I think it would make excellent "lectio" for Advent, both for individuals and small groups.Here is but a "taste:"

This condescension of God is accomplished surpassingly in the incarnation of the Word. The eternal Word, expressed in creation and communicated in salvation history, in Christ became a man, born of woman (Gal 4:4). Here the word finds expression not primarily in discourse, concepts or rules. Here we are set before the very person of Jesus. His unique and singular history is the definitive word which God speaks to humanity. We can see, then, why being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction. The constant renewal of this encounter and this awareness fills the hearts of believers with amazement at Gods initiative, which human beings, with our own reason and imagination, could never have dreamt of. We are speaking of an unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: the word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14a). These words are no figure of speech; they point to a lived experience! Saint John, an eyewitness, tells us so: We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14b). The apostolic faith testifies that the eternal Word became one of us. The divine Word is truly expressed in human words.

The patristic and medieval tradition, in contemplating this Christology of the word, employed an evocative expression: the word was abbreviated. The Fathers of the Church found in their Greek translation of the Old Testament a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Saint Paul also quotes in order to show how Gods new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: 'The Lord made his word short, he abbreviated it' (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28) The Son himself is the Word, the Logos: the eternal word became small small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the word could be grasped by us." Now the word is not simply audible; not only does it have a voice, now the word has a face, one which we can see: that of Jesus of Nazareth.

The rest is here.

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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