Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
22 July 2012
Dear Friends in Christ,
Last weekend, I mentioned in my homily how important it is to familiarize ourselves with the Word of God as part of our regular spiritual discipline. Toward that end, I also suggested that we all carve out the time to study the upcoming readings from the next Sunday, which can easily be found in the missalette at church, the bulletin, the Magnificat publication, or online at the Bishops’ website, www.usccb.org/bible.
When the Scriptures are being proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass, we shouldn’t be hearing them for the first time that week. Otherwise, it is very easy for us to let the Word of God go in one ear and out the other. Instead, we ought to not only read them beforehand, but pray over them throughout the week, and perhaps even study them with your spouse, or during a family evening at home, or a prayer group with friends or co-workers. This way, we can allow God’s word to gradually seep into our hearts and minds over the course of the week. The Scriptures should be digested slowly as we ruminate over God’s self-revelation, turning it over in our heads and pondering it in our hearts. When we prepare ourselves to hear the Word of God through our personal prayer and study, we open ourselves to Scripture’s full transforming power.
But picking up the Bible and studying it can be an intimidating task. It’s the Word of God, yes. But the divine Word is also communicated in the words of human beings who lived long ago. Because their culture was so different from ours, it isn’t surprising that their way of literary expression is sometimes unfamiliar to us. This is why it is important that, when we go to study Scripture, we have the resources of scholars who can help put certain biblical scenes and passages in their appropriate context.
One of my favorite resources in studying Scripture is the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament, which uses the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and leads its readers through an in-depth study of the books of the New Testament through charts, maps, and commentaries by orthodox Catholic professors Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. This helpful resource can be acquired at your favorite bookstore, including St. Anthony’s here in Greenville.
As you study the Scriptures within the divinely inspired Tradition of the Church, you will notice how beautifully the different elements of our Faith fit together. You will come to see how the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament, and how the New is prefigured in the Old, as St. Augustine said.
For me, it’s very rewarding when I can start making connections across the Old and New Testaments, and among the various articles of our faith. Because on the other side of the complex intricacy of literary genres and biblical details, we find the beautiful simplicity of divine truth: the God who is Love has called us to a new life in Jesus Christ.