This reflection was given during the daily Eucharist in the chapel of an Anglican convent. The Scripture it references is Mark 12:35-37.
There’s a hymn that I quite like, which starts:
We limit not the truth of God
to our poor reach of mind,
by notions of our day and sect,
crude, partial and confined:
no, let a new and better hope
within our hearts be stirred:
the Lord has yet more light and truth
to break forth from his word.
I’m reminded of that when we read today’s gospel passage. Jesus is discussing a Psalm attributed to David, in which David celebrates God’s rule over all the earth and triumph over Israel’s enemies. Clearly it meant something along those lines to David when he wrote it, and to the people of Israel who included it in their temple worship.
But here Jesus takes it and creatively re-interprets it to make a statement about his own identity as Messiah.
It doesn’t make what David originally meant by it less true, but it adds another layer or dimension of truth, another depth of insight, into how we might understand the text and what we might take from it for our own encouragement.
And that makes me think, as we celebrate this octave of Pentecost, about how the Holy Spirit works when we read Scripture. Because inspiration isn’t just about what the Spirit said back then, to the original author with papyrus and ink; it’s also about what the Spirit says to us now, in our hearts, about how the God the Scriptures speak of is present and active to us now.
That’s why the author of Hebrews can speak about the word of God as living and active; the words on the page, by themselves, are not living and active at all. But the Spirit can bring them alive to us, making them not just active but effective, stirring us to hope and love and joy.
May we be open to that at every opportunity!