Thomas Merton on Scripture

Merely to set down some of the communicable meanings that can be found in a passage of Scripture is not to exhaust the true meaning or value of that passage. Every word that comes from the mouth of God is nourishment that feeds the soul with eternal life. “Man does not live by bread alone but in every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Whether Scripture tells of David hiding from Saul in the mountains and Saul’s men surrounding his hiding place like a crown, or whether it tells about Jesus raising up the son of the widow of Nain or of the prescriptions for the evening sacrifice of incense, or sings the hymn of Deborah or tells us that Eli, the priest of Shilo, thought Hannah was drunk when she prayed to have a son, whether it tells us in the Canticle that the Spouse has gone down to see if the vineyards are in flower or shows us the new Jerusalem coming down from God adorned as a bride or rebukes the incestuous Corinthians or leads Paul to the river in Macedonia where the women gather and the Holy Spirit opened the heart of Lydia, the seller of dye, to hear the Gospel—everywhere there are doors and windows opened into the same eternity—and the most powerful communication of Scripture is the “implanted word,” the secret and inexpressible seed of contemplation planted in the depths of our soul and awakening it with an immediate and inexpressible contact with the Living Word, that we may adore Him in Spirit and in Truth. By the reading of Scripture I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed round me and with me. The sky seems to be more pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green, light is sharper on the outlines of the forest and the hills, and the whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music in the earth under my feet. (The Intimate Merton, 70-1).


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