Friday, November 8, 2013

Walk with Jesus, Part 1

I'm the woman who sits in the airport terminal reading the Bible. The one who always packs it even for a short weekend trip. The one who has read it cover-to-cover several times. The one who was already in love with a man when she found out that he was the same, and then fell even harder.

Like every Catholic, I was inundated with Scripture from my babyhood. It plays a central role in all of our public liturgies and prayers. But like most Catholics, it wasn't quite so early that it developed a central role in my private life. I was seventeen or eighteen the first time I sat down and read it cover-to-cover. I challenged myself and did it in three months. I spent roughly an hour every day reading Scripture.

A seed was planted there.

But it was hard. I had developed an interest in Catholic apologetics during my high school year, and the apologists were not presenting Scripture in a way that was appealing to me. While I believed that their arguments were reasonable and true, and while I believed that the truth about what Scripture was saying was immensely important, the attitude was a little off-putting. I have no doubt that the apologists love, love, love Scripture - how else could they help it, spending so much time with it? - but it too often came off sounding like this: Scripture is primarily a tool used for bludgeoning all non-Catholics and any Catholic who is wrong.

Like I said, not very appealing.

Then as a freshman at Thomas Aquinas College I had to read it cover-to-cover again. That was what our theology class for the year consisted of.

After that I found myself picking it up more and more over the summer just because. It had become a habit after that school year.

Sophomore year our theology assignment was to read a stack of works by St. Augustine, beginning with On Interpretation, which was all about interpreting Scripture.

It might sound funny to some people who are familiar with St. Augustine, but I was astonished to find a man who was devoted to the truth and did not bludgeon others with Scripture. For sure he was passionate about it, and his arguments were sharp, but first and foremost it was apparent that he loved Scripture, and that he considered it to be about love. His first and foremost rule for interpreting Scripture is that a good interpretation should always lead us to charity. 

His treatises were all about charity, grace, God's love and strength for us in our weakness, and the desire we have for him. All of this was shown from Scripture.

For the first time I saw clearly and distinctly that Scripture was not a bludgeoning tool, but God's Word of love revealing to us the beautiful extraordinary plan He has, expressed such that anyone who picks it up can find that it resonates in a deeply personal way.

It's like a love letter, and it was so well written that I responded as I was meant to. I fell in love.

After that I spent a summer searching for a collecting commentaries on Scripture. I read, I studied, I thought, and the deeper I delved the more it became apparent: this book, every single bit of it, was about one person, and that person is Jesus Christ. When St. Jerome said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ, he wasn't kidding. If we're not filling our hearts and minds with Scripture, we are not going to be capable of truly understanding the God who loves us.

Would you believe that this post was initially going to be about the rosary? That's a hint of what is to come (because this is waaaaaay too long as is!). Their connection is strong. If you love the rosary, then you really should read the Bible because you will love it. If you read the Bible, then you have the best foundation for praying the rosary really, really well.

The final word is from my pastor's homily a few Sundays ago. Let it sink in, even if it hurts a little bit. It definitely stung me.

"Do you really believe that Scripture is the Word of God? Probably not. If you really believed that Scripture was God's Word, you would read it every day."

1 comment:

  1. I was, too, exposed to the Bible from a very young age in my Christian school, and just like you, it didn't take a very active role until my late teenage-young adult years! I have noticed the "attitude" you are talking about (however, I have been mostly exposed to Lutheran apologetics, since I went to a Lutheran college). I think I'll start reading some Catholic works! St. Augustine's works sound very interesting! Either way, I agree, it is ALL about Jesus Christ! Wonderful post, Clare!


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