Personal effort will search out the spiritual point of the text. This is not the same as getting hooked on the phrase that inspires the greatest feelings of personal guilt. The central message is always best synchronized with the mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection. Work at getting at that spiritual sense, the sense which is consistent in Scripture, the spiritual sense which is basic to both the Fathers and modern exegetes. In commenting on Scripture with Scripture, you can seek what the Lord is saying to you.

Don't expect to find only what you already know. What complacency! Don't expect necessarily to find something to please you or ease some situation in your life. This is giving into subjectivism. Not all texts are completely understandable right away! Try a little humility and recognize that so far you've understood little or even nothing at all, and you'll come to a greater understanding later on. This is another form of obedience: if you admit that you still need to be milk-fed, you won't expect to be nibbling on solid food (cf. 1 Cor 3:2; Heb 5:12).

When you get to the point of understanding a little of it, chew over the words in your heart (the rumination recommended by the Fathers). Then apply them to yourself and to your life-situation, without getting lost in psychologism or introspection, and without getting locked into an examination of conscience. God is speaking to you. Think about God, not about yourself! Don't let yourself get paralyzed by a scrupulous analysis of your own shortcomings and limitations while the divine Word is demanding your attention.

The Word will discern the state of your heart, judge you and convict you of sin, but remember that God is greater than your conscience (cf. 1 Jn 3:20). When God wounds your heart this way, he always does it with truth and mercy.