This morning the Holy Father met with the participants in the 43rd National Biblical Week, organised by the Italian Biblical Association, a meeting that inaugurated the celebrations for the fiftieth anniversary of the Dogmatic Constitution of Vatican Council II on the Divine Revelation “Dei Verbum”, promulgated on 18 November 1965.
“Faith, to respond, and so as not to be suffocated, must be constantly nurtured by the Word of God”, said the Pope, expressing his esteem and acknowledgement of the “valuable work” that the Association has carried out through the teachings of its lecturers and Bible scholars. He continued, “God has made the most of all the possibilities of human language, but at the same time He has had to submit His Word to the limitations of this language. True respect for the inspired Scriptures requires us to make all the efforts necessary to fully grasp their meaning”. As it is not possible for every Christian personally to carry out the research of every type necessary to arrive at a good understanding of Biblical texts, he added, “this task is entrusted to exegetes, those who are responsible in this sector for the good of all. … Therefore, alongside academic competence, the Catholic exegete needs above all, faith: received from and shared with all believers who, in their entirety, cannot be mistaken”.
Pope Francis recalled the words of St. John Paul II: “to respect the coherence of the faith of the Church and the inspiration of the Scripture, Catholic exegesis must be careful not merely to comply with the human aspects of biblical texts. First and foremost, exegesis must help Christian people to perceive more clearly the Word of God in these texts, so as to accept it better, to live fully in communion with God. … Naturally it is necessary for the exegete to know how to perceive the Divine Word in the texts, and this is possible only if his spiritual life is fervent, rich in dialogue with the Lord; otherwise exegetic research remains incomplete, and the main objective is lost from sight”.
Returning to the words of St. John Paul II, Francis remarked, “To arrive at a fully valid interpretation of the words inspired by the Holy Spirit, we ourselves must be guided by the Holy Spirit; and for this we must pray, and ask in prayer for the inner light of the Spirit and accept this light with docility; we must ask for love, as love alone makes us able to understand the language of God, which is love”. He added, “Our Lady teaches us to fully welcome the Word of God, not only through intellectual research, but in all our life”, and concluded by giving his blessing to those present.