Friday - June 5
In our first reading today, St. Paul reminds his disciple Timothy, now the bishop for the church of God in the city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey), of the importance of Scripture for his ministry. The Scripture is not just useful for Timothy personally, but useful also for his work in ministry – teaching, refutation (of false teachers and heretics), correction, and for training in righteousness. Here the Scripture Paul refers to is what we know as the Old Testament; we today have the advantage of the New Testament as well.
Since the Second Vatican Council, Catholics have hopefully become more familiar with the Bible. The number and variety of readings from the Bible have been enlarged, and the three-year cycle of Scripture readings for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist have helped Catholics understand the different kinds of inspired writings found there, for the same uses that Paul reminded Timothy. Bible Study groups meet on a regular basis in most Catholic parishes in our country.
The famous Christian biblical scholar of the fifth century A.D., St. Jerome, in his commentary on the book of the prophet Isaiah, wrote that, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” For Jerome, the Bible is the living, breathing Word of God that speaks to people of all times and places. While it certainly does tell a certain part of the history of the relationship between God and his people (Jewish and Christian), it is much more than that – it is a revelation of the mystery of the living God to the world through the person and work of Christ. And so, as St. Ignatius Loyola suggested in his discernment of spirits exercises, we need to find out who and where we are in the stories and teachings that the Bible contains.
The Second Vatican Council also reminded us that the Bible contains what God needs to reveal to people for the sake of their salvation. The last part of that sentence is important, reminding us that the Bible is first and foremost a religious work, a work of and for faith, written by people of faith, for people of faith. While the science and history written of in the Bible may not be accurate in terms of what we know today, those aspects are probably not what is necessary for our salvation. The spiritual meaning of the Scriptures is what is important – encapsulated best is in the famous verse John 3:16, that God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, not to condemn the world, but to save it.
I hope that wherever our “new normal” way of living leads us, that our love, knowledge and use of the Scriptures will guide us as individuals and a church to understanding how God is acting in the here and now and how we wants us to respond to that action.