“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105)
Pope Pius XII started “the renewal in Sacred Scriptures” by his epoch making encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu.22 The Vatican Council II, by its Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, gave full vigour to the interest in the Sacred Scriptures, resulting in more translations and diffusion of the Bible, the written Word of God. This scriptural renewal has climaxed in the Synod on the Word of God23 and the Post Synodal apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini.24
The Word of God comes at important turning points of Devasahayam Pillai’s life, leading the Servant of God to Christian faith and inspiring him during the years of torture, “instructing” him on martyrdom. De Lannoy exposed Nilakandan to the Word of God by narrating to him the story of Job. He was able to find meaning in his life experiences in the light of the Word of God. This paved the way towards his conversion to Christian faith. The word of God which “shall not return empty” carried out the purpose for which the Lord sent it in his life (Cf. Is. 55:10-11).
Poet Thomman Thirumuthu, who was Devasahyam’s great friend and spent sometime with him in prison, singing and praising God throughout the night, says: “Nilakandan received the Dharma of Jesus (the Word of God) just as a shell receives the pearl and conserved it (in his heart) by prayer and penance25. During the tortures, his practice was like the “Lectio Divina”. We have seen how he made others read the Passions of Christ to Him and how he himself read the same to others.26 As in the life of St. Bernard, in the life and sufferings of the martyr, often “the visit of the Word” filled his heart with an “indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Pt 1:8).27 By his life and martyrdom, Devasahayam Pillai inspires us that “It is necessary that listening to the Word could be a life-ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living Word which questions, directs and shapes our lives”.28
«I would especially recommend to evoke the ancient tradition of lectio divina ... If this practice is effectively promoted, will accrue to the Church - I am convinced - a new spiritual springtime. The biblical ministry must therefore insist particularly on lectio divina and encourage through new methods, developed with care and in step with the times»29.
The CCBI Bishops of India, in the Plenary Assembly of 2009, observed that even at a time the anti-Christian attacks and injustices of various kinds are taking place, the situation calls for a life centered on the Word of God. They said in their statement:
«… at a crucial moment in the life of our nation which is facing many challenges: the effects of the worldwide economic meltdown; the scourge of terrorism; the injustice of discrimination based on sex, caste and creed, etc. We are especially concerned about the phenomenon of religious fanaticism and intolerance which has led to repeated attacks and violence against the minorities in India. This near-crisis situation shows the importance of building our lives on the firm foundation of the Word. “The word of God is the basis of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realists, we should count on this reality».30