One of my favorite priests said to me, Stephen, “There are few guarantees in the spiritual life, but this is one of them. If you read Scripture every day, When you close your eyes in death, and you open them again, you will recognize where you are.”
In our Gospel, we have another account of Jesus appearing to his disciples after the Resurrection. And Luke tells us that Jesus, opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. What we have this weekend is a reminder that the Bible, the word of God, is important for our own spiritual nourishment. Pope Francis says to us “The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often – every day, both on your own and together with others.”
On May 12th, Andrew Ayers, our seminarian intern from last year, will be ordained to the diaconate. And at his ordination Mass, there is a very powerful moment where the Bishop will hand the newly ordained the Book of the Gospels: And he will say, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” In other words, the Scriptures enable us to believe in God and to know Him, to teach – proclaim the Good News, and to Love as God loves.
Saint Jerome once said, “Ignorance of Scriptures, is ignorance of Christ.” Recently, in the Young Adults group, we have here at Our Lady, we were discussing the Holy Spirit. And one young lady said that she has a great relationship with Holy Spirit, but she struggles with Jesus, because “she wasn’t alive when he was”. Isn’t this a similar struggle that all of us can experience? None of us were alive when Jesus was! So I asked her, how do you learn about Christ? And she was kind of hoping I would give her an answer. Here’s the thing, if we want to know who Christ is, we need to read the Scriptures. We need to read about how Jesus talked to people, how he loved, how he responded emotionally to struggles and sufferings, and to read about how he healed people. To know Jesus, we must read about Him. Therefore, the more we know Jesus in the Scriptures, the more we believe in a God who loves us.
The Bible is necessary for all of us to have the capability to teach our faith. Priests, for example, must both carefully study scripture and pray with the Scriptures in order to proclaim God’s word to people today. But this is not just important for priests. It’s also important for anyone who is a catechist, anyone who has children and is important for anyone who has family and friends who have yet to discover God’s goodness in their own lives. So, my brothers and sisters, that is all of us. All of us are called to teach the faith in some way to people in our lives. So all of must be readers of the Word of God, listeners of that Word in our own hearts, so that we can be preachers of the Word in our world.
Finally, Scripture and prayer is an essential element to developing a relationship with God; these are an essential element of learning to love as God loves. The unity of prayer and scripture opens our hearts to hear how God is calling us to change. To help explain how this works, one of my favorite passages of Scripture is Luke 22:61. This scene takes place right after Peter has denied Christ for the third time. Peter looks up and sees Jesus, and this verse says, and Jesus looked at Peter. At this moment, I totally relate to Peter, in the shame and guilt experienced after rejecting God’s love, and yet at the same time, I feel more loved by Christ’s look. Its as if Christ is saying in his gaze, “You are worth it. I am suffering out of love for you.” This is an example of how we pray with Scripture.
And so, my friends, this weekend I recommend three ways to grow closer to your Bible. First, begin to read scripture every day. It might be a good idea to start with the Book of Acts. We are in the Easter season, and this is the time in the early Church when the disciples of Christ go out and proclaim the Good News of Christ boldly. Second, pray with the Sunday readings before coming for Sunday Mass. I promise this will make a difference at Mass! Finally, feel free to bring your Bibles to Church! If something strikes you in the readings at Mass, you can put a bookmark in that spot and pray with it later.
May we all continue to grow close to Sacred Scripture as we “Believe what we read, teach what we believe, and practice what we teach.”
In Christ’s Love,