2/73.1 Reading the Gospel fruitfully.
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. In knowing him we know the purpose of life and of all things; our life is an ongoing journey towards him. It is in the Gospel we must learn the supreme knowledge of Jesus Christ, how to imitate him and follow in his footsteps. And to learn from him, you must try to know his life – reading the Gospel and meditating on the scenes of the New Testament – in order to understand the divine meaning of his life on earth. In our own life we must reproduce Christ’s life. We need to come to know him by reading and meditating on Scripture.
We want to identify ourselves with our Lord, our daily living to be a reflection of him. But to be Christ himself, we must ‘see ourselves in him’. It’s not enough to have a general idea of the spirit of Jesus’ life; we have to learn the details of his life and, through them, his attitudes. Especially, we must contemplate his life, and from it derive strength, light, serenity and peace.
When you love someone, you want to know all about him, his life and his personality, so as to become like him. That is why we have to meditate on the life of Jesus, from his birth in a stable right through to his death and resurrection.
We should read the Gospel with a longing to know him so as to love him. We can’t read Scripture as though it were just another book. In the sacred books the Father who is in Heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them. Prayer has to accompany our reading, because we know that God is the principal author of those books. In them, and in the Gospels in particular, we find food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life. We should listen to the Gospel – St Augustine writes – as though Christ were present and talking to us. We shouldn’t say: those who knew him in real life were very fortunate, for many of those who knew him, did in fact crucify him; and many who did not know him believed in him. The words which our Lord spoke were written down; they have been safeguarded and preserved for us.
To read and meditate on the Gospel fruitfully we have to do so with faith, knowing that it contains the truths of salvation, and contains them without error; we also have to read it with piety and holiness of life. The Church, with the help of the Holy Spirit, has preserved intact and free from all error the priceless treasure of our Lord’s life and doctrine; by meditating on it we can easily draw close to him and strive to become saints. We will discover the intimate truths contained in those books only insofar as we desire to be saints; only thus will we taste the divine fruit which they contain. Do we truly appreciate this tremendous treasure which we have so readily to hand? Are we trying to grow in knowledge and love for the sacred humanity of our Lord each day through our Gospel reading? Do we ask the Holy Spirit to help us each time we begin reading the Gospel?