A Vincentian View: Inspiration

by | Jun 19, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 0 comments

During these weeks, Pope Francis has employed the theme of the Holy Spirit in his catechesis for those who assemble in Saint Peter’s Square.  I love to hear of the work of the Spirit!  On one occasion, the Holy Father speaks about “inspiration” and its intimate connection to the Word of God.  This concept highlights the movement of God’s Spirit within the author, the Word itself, and the reader of the text. The inspiration of the author is fundamental.

Sacred Scripture is committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. . . . In composing the sacred books, God chose people and while employed by him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with him acting in and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which he wanted. (Dei Verbum, p. 11)

The biblical author captures the intent of the writing as directed by God.  He is inspired.

However, it is not simply the author of the text who may be called “inspired.” The reader of the text—including us—is also “inspired.”  Francis writes:

“The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures, is also He who explains and makes them perennially living and active. From inspired, He makes them inspiring.” (Papal Audience, June 12, 2024)

The reader can take up the Bible, read it, and come to an understanding that was intended by God for this person in this time and place.  Yes, God’s Spirit works within the reader of the text.  Thus, as we begin to read the Word of God, we should pray that God’s Spirit may move within us and help us to understand a meaning of the text for ourselves.  We want the Lord to help us to understand what this text offers for our lives—and it can be different each time that we read it.  The vigor of the Holy Spirit stirs our minds and hearts.  Francis affirms:

“The words of the Scripture, under the action of the Spirit, become luminous; and in those cases, we touch with our own hands how true is the statement in the Letter to the Hebrews: ‘The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword’ (4:12).” (Papal Audience, June 12, 2024)

The Spirit does not teach new truths but helps the community to understand the truths which Jesus has already spoken to them.  During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the disciples could not understand all that he had to teach them.  They could not understand completely who he was or how he was calling them to live and act.  That gift would be given to them only after he had suffered and died and been raised to new life.  And so, he promised the Holy Spirit to the community to give explanation and inspiration.  This Holy Spirit would remain with the disciples and help them to understand the message of Jesus.  This reality fills them not only with courage, but with the ability to proclaim the message more clearly and firmly.  Then, the people who hear and understand act on what is said.

The Holy Father suggests, when we pick up the Bible to read or when we sit and are attentive to the Gospel as it is proclaimed: the words of the prophets are spoken anew to the People of God; the lessons of the parables are offered afresh for application in the lives of believers; the encouragement of the beatitudes is given once again to those who need guidance and strengthening today.  The Holy Spirit is poured out upon the individual and the community.  People are inspired to hear the word and allow it to find application in their experience.

Paul writes to Timothy:

“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:14-17)

We pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as we pray and live the Gospel.  The Spirit reveals God’s will and plan.  The Spirit is the acting force in the motto of the Congregation of the Mission—evangelizare pauperibus misit me (“to preach the Gospel to the poor, he has sent me”).


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