The Second Vatican Council’s third major category is called ‘Revelation‘. Not only through scripture but also through tradition and history. In the documents, there is an emphasis on scripture. The Latin rite history was less accustomed to placing emphasis on scripture than on canon law. Revelations, if you think about it is God speaking to us. Revelations come to us in several ways. First of all, it happens to us through scripture. The Council placed a heavy emphasis on reading and studying, scripture. To read and meditate on Scripture is important because, as St. Jerome said centuries ago, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (quoted in paragraph 25).
For the church, a major obstacle had to be overcome. The Council called for “easy access” to the Bible. This spurred a wave of new translations in various languages and in ways that people can more easily understand it (paragraph 22). If you look during the late 1960s and 1970s, there was a major influx of bibles with various translations coming out in print. A second way that God reveals “Christ” to us is through the church’s tradition—its doctrines, its theologians, its practices and customs. This is an area often misunderstood. Christ has been with us for roughly fifteen billion years. Yes from the start of the universe. Earth has been here for roughly five billion years and Jesus of Nazareth the incarnation of Christ for roughly two thousand years. Think “Alpha and Omega” here, Christ was with us before anything about Christ was written, the content of the scripture was passed on as tradition, and it is only in the context of “culture” that we can fully understand God’s Word in the Bible. This is where theologians and scripture scholars play a significant role. The document on Revelation is clear that there are not really two sources of God revealing the “Godness” to us; we need to think of Scripture and Tradition like the Great Lakes all flowing from the same source and interconnected, which is the “Word” of God.
The document on Revelation has six chapters. Chapter one introduces us to meaning of Revelation itself, and a second chapter explains how Revelation is communicated—through the scripture and the work of theologians and scripture scholars. Chapter three presents insights into how Scripture is inspired and interpreted. In Chapters four and five of the document it discusses the Old Testament and the New Testament and why they are both revelation. Chapter six is a most important chapter that addresses ‘pastoral concerns’ and thereby is entitled “Sacred Scripture in the Life of the Church.”
It’s no secret that before Vatican II the Catholic church did not encourage people to actively read scripture, I am a “cradle Catholic,” and by fifth grade, I knew more about what the laws of the church were than the books in the bible. This document attempted to reverse this mindset, but it is still an issue. All in all the text on Revelation did spur a revolution in Christian life and Christian spirituality, and we have seen a rise in contemplative studies among Christians growing.
As I was thinking about this musing I thought one of the best ways to get the theme of the document across and made real was by having you reflect on ten Questions:
1. How would you describe your curent relationship with God now in life from ten or twenty years ago? Strained? Warm? Frightened? Comfortable? Challenging? You get the drift fill in what best describes your relationship.
2. God calls us to be one with God. What do you have to do to hear, know and accept that call?
3. Can you think of anyways as an adult that you have grown in its understanding of God’s Revelation through the centuries without having someone in a pulpit tell you or point it out?
4. Why do you think it is essential to “be contemplative” meaning having time to be alone and reflect on the universe around us, God in that universe and just becoming ‘hearers of the word,’ and to come to an “intimate understanding of the nature of the Christ”?
5. The Bible is often described as “the Word of God written in the languages of all nationalities.” Do you think that changes the meaning, the original intent or the historical perspective?
6. Can you pinpoint the times in your life you have been inspired by the Holy Spirit? How did it happen? How did it feel? Does this experience give you a perspective on how the Bible was inspired?
7. How seriously do you read Scriptures? Only at church services? In bible study? Or do you read it alone and meditate? Do you feel like there is no time to interpret scripture?
8. How does your contemplation, your prayer, your thinking “accompany the reading of sacred Scripture”? Is this an area of improvement?
9. Are there particular verses of Scripture with which you read more often? Why is that? Do you find the Gospels more or less enjoyable to read than the Psalms?
10. Do the stories of the prophets only make you think these are just historical and not relevant to the modern world? Are there particular passages or verses you can recall from memory? Why is that?
In summry, think about this quote as you finish your answers to the question above:
“Incarnation is the oldest Christian story. Through Christ, God is pouring God’s self into all creation. To be Christian, then, is to see Christ in every thing.”