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
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
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
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
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
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.