Friday, November 12, 2010

Who Is Jesus Christ?

Eric Sammons, the author of the new book Who Is Jesus Christ? Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew, is in big trouble. Why? Because I have a bad habit of reading anywhere from 4-15 books at a time. I generally pick one up and read it for a while. The next time I read, I pick up a different book from the book pile. Once in a while, esp. when reading fiction, I read a book cover-to-cover and can't put it down. Eric's new book has been one that I can't put down and this means the stack of other books has been neglected since I starting reading Who Is Jesus Christ?

The book is a meditation on the different titles given to Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew. It is evident that Sammons has been chewing on this Gospel for a long time, because the insights are enlightening, relevant, and personal. I have really enjoyed praying alongside Eric as I am reading his thoughts.

What you notice is a humble acknowledgement that any fruit that comes from his book, came first from the Holy Spirit who inspired St. Matthew to write his Gospel for us. This humility is the first step to being able to know Jesus Christ personally and draw others closer to him. Sammons is a friend to us all, because through this book he helps us to know Jesus better.

Benedict XVI said the following about our meditation on Sacred Scripture in 2005:
The conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum emphasized appreciation for the Word of God, which developed into a profound renewal for the life of the Ecclesial Community, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirituality and ecumenical relations. Indeed, it is the Word of God which guides believers, through the action of the Holy Spirit, towards all truth (cf. Jn 16: 13).

Among the many fruits of this biblical springtime I would like to mention the spread of the ancient practice of Lectio divina or "spiritual reading" of Sacred Scripture. It consists in pouring over a biblical text for some time, reading it and rereading it, as it were, "ruminating" on it as the Fathers say and squeezing from it, so to speak, all its "juice", so that it may nourish meditation and contemplation and, like water, succeed in irrigating life itself.

One condition for Lectio divina is that the mind and heart be illumined by the Holy Spirit, that is, by the same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures, and that they be approached with an attitude of "reverential hearing".
If the goal of praying with Sacred Scripture is to irrigate our lives with the Holy Spirit, I could give no greater comment about a book on the Bible than to say it does just that - it is irrigating my life with the Holy Spirit.

Eric - thanks for sending me your book and thanks for writing it. I think it is a treasure the Church will be using for many years to come.

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