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We All Need to Ponder Scripture


Special Emphasis in 2008
Revelation Works Both Ways
Following Mary’s Lead

We come to know God in many ways, but most especially through reflecting on the Bible. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path,” writes the psalmist (119:105).

One such example is God’s proclamation after meeting Moses on Mt. Sinai, “The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin...” (Exodus 34:6-7a). That may be the Old Testament’s best description of God.

The Scriptures reveal God in a unique way, but sometimes we seem only vaguely interested. Is our reluctance based on the work needed to know the Scriptures better? Or do we rightly suspect that giving them more attention will change us as our values move toward God’s?


At the end of June, Pope Benedict XVI will open a yearlong celebration to mark the 2,000th anniversary of St. Paul’s birth. In October the 12th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be held at the Vatican. Its topic is “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.”

Our January issue presented “Allowing Scripture to Transform Us,” by Richard Rohr, O.F.M.

Last month we published an article on how the 1970 Lectionary readings for Sunday and weekday Masses have made us more familiar with and appreciative of the Old Testament. This month we present a companion article on how the Lectionary presents the New Testament.

Our inside-back-cover column this year explains how lesser-known biblical women and men contributed to God’s plan of revelation. Other Scripturerelated articles will appear in these pages this year.

Jesus is certainly God’s best selfrevelation. In the 21st century, we know Jesus only through the Scriptures and the faith community that has been shaped by them.

The Bible teaches us what kind of God made us, sustains us and desires to share everlasting life with us. The Bible simultaneously reveals God to us and opens us up to God.

Our constant temptation is to make God in our image rather than recognize that we have already been created in God’s image. The Bible challenges religious smugness at every turn—as we see, for example, in the Book of Jonah and Jesus’ parables about the lost sheep, the woman who lost a coin and the prodigal son (Luke 15:1-32). Without the Bible, we would constantly sell God short.

The Old Testament was over 1,000 years in the making—from the oldest written accounts to the texts we read today. The New Testament was completed almost 100 years after Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible was given to a faith community, not to individuals.

The Bible shows a deep unity amid often divergent viewpoints, a fact that fundamentalist readers of the Scriptures tend to downplay.

When the mother of Jesus reflected in her heart on the birth of Jesus and on his growing up (see Luke 2:19,51), she was certainly aided by Scripture, the foundation of her Jewish faith.

On February 2, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to men and women who belong to religious communities and recalled that the conversion of St. Francis of Assisi was profoundly influenced by his listening to Gospel texts. Francis once exclaimed, “This is what I want! This is what I ask! This is what I want to do from the bottom of my heart!” (1 Celano 83).

The pope cited other men and women who made living out Scripture a key goal for their religious groups. A prayerful, meditative reading of Scripture (lectio divina) helps this.

Pope Benedict went on to say, “Dear brothers and sisters, nourish your day with prayer, meditation and listening to the Word of God. May you, who are familiar with the ancient practice of lectio divina, help the faithful to appreciate it in their daily lives, too. And may you know how to express what the Word suggests, letting yourself be formed by it so that you bring forth abundant fruit, like a seed that has fallen into good soil.”

Thousands of Catholics have engaged in Bible study or participated in RENEW, Christ Renews His Parish, Cursillo or similar programs. Along with attentive listening to the readings at Sunday or weekday Mass, these initiatives helped the Scriptures influence Catholics more and more profoundly.

Some followers of Jesus have found that reading over the next Sunday’s readings supports their prayer. Many parish bulletins and diocesan newspapers list those references.

The Liturgy of the Hours is almost entirely a collection of Scripture passages. Some Christians have found the honesty and faith of the psalms to be extremely refreshing.

Many people have begun centering prayer, which often uses a biblical verse or phrase to focus the one praying, encouraging a progressively greater openness to God’s grace.

Numerous parishes offer Bible-study programs, and many publishers provide books, CDs and DVDs to help people to be fed by God’s word and grow by means of it.

St. Paul urged the Christians in Colossae, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...” (3:16). Scripture is God’s word of hope for a world that urgently needs it.—P.M.

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