.- Scripture is âthe one story that really mattersâ because it is the story of Godâs ânew creation,â Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said in a lecture on Friday morning. Calling on Christians to live their lives âin Christ,â he said Catholics should allow Godâs ânew creationâ to take root in themselves.
Speaking on Friday at the Catholic Bible Conference at St. Thomas More Parish in the Denver suburb of Littleton, the Archbishop of Denver said the story of Scripture is âthe greatest story ever told â a story of Godâs creative power, manâs betrayal, Godâs redemptive love; and a new destiny for humanity greater and more beautiful than anything any of us can imagine. What man has violated -- including himself -- God makes new and better.â
Criticizing a kind of âtamedâ Christianity, he explained: âThereâs nothing tepid or routine about a real encounter with Sacred Scripture â¦ Godâs Word is profoundly good, but it is never âtameâ.â
When Jesus said âI came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindledâ (Lk. 12:49), the archbishop commented, âhe spoke not as an interesting moral counselor, but as the restless, incarnate Word of God, the Scriptures in flesh and blood, on fire with his Fatherâs mission of salvation.â
âScripture is passionate; itâs a love story, and it can only be absorbed by giving it everything we have: our mind, our heart and our will. Itâs the one story that really matters; the story of Godâs love for humanity.
Explaining the âstructure and meaningâ of Scripture, he said the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to manâs creation, fall and redemption. These âthree key actsâ embody âGodâs plan for each of us.â
Because modern Christians are often âuneasyâ with the biblical account of creation, Archbishop Chaput said they often miss its âimportant truthsâ about Godâs goodness, the inherent goodness of Creation, and the centrality of man and woman.
âIn Genesis, humanity crowns the created world as a final, perfected expression of Godâs love,â the archbishop added.
He described the Book of Genesis as âa poetic account, not a newspaper report â but nonetheless a reliable expression of the truth about the history of humanity.â At some point, mankindâs first parents âturned away from Godâs willâ and wounded themselves and all subsequent generations.
âEvery one of us is born a victim and carrier of that original wound. It separates us from God,â he explained, noting that only God can save mankind.
Archbishop Chaput emphasized the reality of sin and the foundational nature of original sin. Sin âdefaces who God intended us to be,â but Jesus does more than erase our sins. He also âelevates us for sonshipâ and gives us âa share in Godâs own nature.â
He noted the imagery of the ânew creationâ throughout the Gospel of St. John, saying this imagery climaxes with âthe resurrected Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, just as God breathed his Spirit into Adam.â
However, the archbishop explained, Jesusâ Resurrection is the central image, as according to St. Paul it âushers in a new creation.â He then noted that the gospel authorsâ naming of the day of the Resurrection as the first of the week âhints that the new creation has only just begun.â
âThose who believe in Jesus Christ, and conform their lives to him, take part in this new creation,â he taught the crowd of attendees, noting that baptism makes us âa new creation in Christ.â
Describing the Holy Spirit as âthe keyâ and âthe engineâ of the new creation, the archbishop said Christians need to be âled by the Spirit.â
Turning to St. Paul's writings, the Denver prelate said we are presented with two roads: âthe way of the flesh that surrenders to the disordered passions â¦ or the way of obedience to the Holy Spirit, which allows God to take root in us and bear the fruits of love, joy and peace.â
This use of the word âfruitâ by St. Paul is âvery deliberate,â Archbishop Chaput said, explaining that fruit must be carefully cultivated. In baptism the Holy Spirit is âplanted in our souls,â but, he said, receiving the sacrament is no reason for passivity because â â¦ the extent to which Godâs new creation takes root in us depends upon our efforts, sustained over time, to help it grow.â
âWe succeed as Christians only in the degree to which we allow God to graft us into the life of his Son,â he explained, noting each personâs âunique and unrepeatable roleâ in the salvation history of which God is the author.
The way for Christians to grow in their life in Christ is to create a daily time for prayer, silence, and Scripture study, as well as by worship, the archbishop taught.
This life also advances by âsubmitting our pride and our lives to our mater et magistra â the Church who is our âmother and teacher,â precisely because she is also ecclesiam suam, âhis Church,â the Church Jesus Christ founded, guides and loves for the salvation of his people.â
Archbishop Chaput closed his talk by urging Catholics to âLive the life God calls you to right now â¦ and in your witness, God will renew the face of the earth.â