Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rediscover the Old Testament

"The inspired books speak of God and, in a certain sense, speak only of Him. Or rather, in the inspired books God Himself expresses Himself. His voice should be heard in preference to all others, for 'God rightly speaks of God.' The message of the Old Testament announces the New Testament and prepares for it, but it does more than prepare the road; it manifests in advance Him to whom the road leads, upon whom all its perspectives converge. Christ reminded His apostles of this: 'Search the Scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of Me.' Even the Samaritan woman was aware of this truth: 'The woman saith to Him: I know that the Messias cometh (who is called Christ); therefore, when He is come, He will tell us all things.

Tradition asserts that each Testament sheds light on the other and that their viewpoints complete each other. This is especially evident on the plane of essential values...

Some truths were revealed to man before the coming of Christ, right from the beginning of time. Later God strove to make these truths penetrate more deeply into the mind, the heart and the soul of humanity. Other truths, and by no means the least important, were revealed only by the Son of God. But even in this case the Old Testament provided the ground on which the edifice of faith would be erected, showing man a God who is one and transcendent, spiritual and living, omnipotent and infinitely holy. Thereby it laid the indestructible foundations of subsequent revelations and also of all spiritual life.

The Bible speaks to us first of God, then of man confronting God. Again the essential values are elucidated: the depth of man's nature, his inherent misery, his basic aspirations, his irrepresible impulses. Then the Old Testament tells us of the bonds between man and God, recalling that we were made by Him and for Him, that He is always with us and truly ours. We learn the nature of the bond which unites us to God - a bond of charity, having two requirements stated in the two great commandments: love of God ('the greatest and the first commandment') and love of neighbor (the 'royal law').

Not only does the Old Testament present theological and moral doctrine, but it also teaches man how he is loved by God; and here we are undoubtedly at the very heart of  its message. To convey this message to us, the Old Testament used not only words but also acts, gestures and the divine lessons of things whereby God revealed the features of His face. Gradually man discovered in Him the Creator, the Master, the Father, the Savior and (most wonderful of all!) the Lover... Indeed a wonderfully rich spiritual and mystical theology can be derived from the inspired books of the Old Testament, especially the prophetic books. This theology, however, depends entirely upon the person of the one who is constantly predicted, the Messias, the Savior. Only He will bring us this mystical doctrine to the plane of actual experience. Thus the theology of the Old Testament postulates Christ. Man's union with God, the goal of the spiritual life, likewise depends entirely upon Christ. Without the Savior this union between God and His sinful creature would be impossible. But in Him and by Him the nuptials are prepared, for He redeems and espouses humanity. Henceforth this God, who is Father and Savior, may be seen also as the Lover for whom man is destined, the wooer of souls."

-- Spirituality of the Old Testament vol 1 by Paul-Marie of the Cross, ocd

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