Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Consuming the Word Chapter 1: The Sacrament of the Scroll
Hahn begins his work with the story of St. Romanus the Melodist, who was a sixth-century composer of homilies in hymn form. He recounts how St. Romanus, like Ezekiel and John the Seer, was commanded to eat a scroll, in this case by the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Saint Jerome remarks: "Unless we eat the open book first, we cannot teach the children of Israel (4)." Truly, you cannot give what you do not own. The New Evangelization needs more lay people who have consumed the Word and are ready to go out into the world proclaiming that Jesus Lives!
Yet there is more to this than just a need to understand his written word really well, although that is important. Hahn points out that Romanus, Jerome, Ezekiel, and John all knew that "Salvation comes by way of a covenant-a covenant embodied in a Word, a Word that is made flesh, a Word that is consumed (6)."
What it means to "consume the Word" is going to be examined over the coming chapters, particularly in light of the Scriptural and Patristic evidence. But before we are able to do this, it is essential that we understand how the early Christians understood those particularly important theological terms like "covenant," "testament," "liturgy," and "Eucharist." This is the main reason Hahn wrote this book. The need to understand what these basic, though essential, theological terms meant to the sacred authors and the earliest Christians will not only have a profound impact on our own lives, but also on how we spread the Gospel in the 21st Century. "Our recovery of the newness of that vocabulary-the New Testament, the New Covenant-is especially urgent right now, as the Church embarks upon a New Evangelization (7)."