It is amazing how prolific our beloved Pope Benedict XVI is given all his responsibilities. In 2010, he produced yet another document, his Apostolic Exhortation, The Word of the Lord. Its theme centers around the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. His message is important and urgent. For me, that message is wonderfully summed up as follows: "Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for 'if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man.'"

KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - It is amazing how prolific our beloved Pope Benedict XVI is given all his responsibilities. In 2010, he produced yet another document, his Apostolic Exhortation, The Word of the Lord. Its theme centers around the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church. His message is important and urgent. As such, I have highlighted a few of the points that the Pope addressed in this powerful document.

The first point states that God not only created us, but He has also reached out to us in order to "enter into loving communion with us" (cf. 6). We can see this in the Incarnation, that is, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We also see it in creation and salvation history via the prophets, the Apostles, the Church's Tradition, and the Sacred Scriptures. All of these elements comprise the Word of God. Christianity is not a "religion of the book"; Christianity is the "religion of the Word of God" (7).

The second point specifically concerns the Sacred Scriptures and the crisis in modern scholarship. Pope Benedict reminds us that the Scriptures were written by a faith-filled community under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the Scriptures must be interpreted with this view in mind (29-30). Modern scholarship not only attempts to divorce the text from its proper context, but it approaches the Scriptures with certain preconceived notions that are inimical to the faith.

For instance, a fundamental premise underlying much modern scholarship of the Scriptures is that the "Divine does not intervene in human history" (35b). This premise completely negates the message and meaning of the Scriptures, and it largely explains many of the false and confusing statements we hear today. For instance, we often hear that the Eucharist is not the true Body and Blood of Jesus, or Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, but only in the hearts and minds of his disciples. Clearly, these statements are fundamentally flawed.

In the final point, Pope Benedict reminds us that the most privileged place for the proclamation, hearing and celebration of the Word of God is in the liturgy, that is, during the Mass and other liturgical celebrations (72). Upon receiving the totality of the Word, the Church allows herself to be transformed by it. And as the Church becomes transformed, she is drawn into Christ's life and mission, which empowers her to proclaim the Word to the world. But it is not just the clergy and consecrated religious who are to carry out this mission, the laity are "to bear witness to the Gospel in daily life" (94).

One way the Catholic laity can witness to the Gospel is by taking part in political and social life (94). Rather than being ashamed of our faith, we should be confident. Christianity offers society a consistent, ordered, rational view of reality and human nature which promotes high moral standards. As such, society desperately needs us to defend the dignity of the human person and the true common good.

Of course, Pope Benedict's exhortation on the Word of God is much richer than these three points indicate. Yet, I believe that they are enough for us to appreciate the importance and the urgency of his message. For me, that message is wonderfully summed up as follows: "Christ needs to be seen and his voice heard, for 'if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man'" (113).
 
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Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.