Sunday December 9th 2012 2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday December 9th 2012 2nd Sunday of Advent

Sunday December 9th 2012   2nd Sunday of Advent

bible images2

The Bible is a life long companion.

Bible Sunday” here are a few lines or little “crash course” to mark the occasion
Why and How Should I read the Bible?

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither”. (Psalm 1:1-3)

What a beautiful phrase; “His delight is in the law of the Lord”. How can the bible become our delight? What’s so special about the bible?
The Bible is uniquely popular. It’s the most successful literary creation ever; more influential than Shakespeare or any of the other great texts. Take the Greek philosopher Homer, for example. He has been translated into 40 languages. Shakespeare, the English playwright, has been translated into 60 languages, the Harry Potter stories; 67 languages. The bible has been translated into well over 2,233 languages! That’s 10 times more than any other book. It’s every publisher’s dream. Bible sales amount to more than 44 million per year. An article in The Times in London said; “Forget the modern British novelists and TV tie-ins; the Bible is the biggest-selling book every year…. As usual the top seller by several miles was the … Bible. If cumulative sales of the Bible were frankly reflected in bestseller lists, it would be a rare week when anything else would achieve a look in… it is estimated that nearly 1,250,000 Bibles and Testaments are sold in the UK each year”.

The Bible is uniquely powerful.

Gandhi said to the Christians of his day; “You look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down and bring peace to a battle torn planet. But you treat it as though it were nothing more than a piece of literature”. The Bible is uniquely powerful. It has the power to change individuals, families, and societies. In recent times there has been arising interest in the occult. People play with Ouija boards, see occult films, have their fortunes told, and read horoscopes. They want to get in touch with the supernatural. The tragedy s that they are seeking to communicate with the supernatural evil forces, whereas what God offers us in the Bible is an opportunity to meet with the supernatural powers of good. To meet with the living God is so much more thrilling, more satisfying and a great deal wiser.

The Bible is uniquely precious

Queen Elizabeth at her coronation was handed a Bible with these words: “We present you with this book, the most valuable thing that this world affords”.
Matthew 4:4 Jesus said: “It is written: “People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”.
What this is saying is that material things alone don’t satisfy. Physical hunger can be satisfied by bread, but we also have this spiritual hunger, which can only be satisfied by spiritual things. It’s a longing for God that is in every human heart. We need relationship with our Creator. The Greek word in this text means that communication is continually coming out of the mouth of God, like a stream constantly pouring out. God is longing to communicate to us, to be in relationship with us. The primary way God speaks to us is through the Bible.

Word of God as an essential spiritual food.

We celebrate scripture in the liturgy and should also be a daily food. “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ” Saint Jerome. I have heard it said; “I don’t know what the bible says, I’m a catholic” That’s like saying; “I don’t know the Lord, I’m catholic”. Scripture is meant to be lived on a daily basis.

The Canon
The bible is made up of 73 books. Our Protestant brothers and sisters have 66, they took 6 or 7 books out a few hundred years ago. We maintain the canon that has been there since the year 393 and 397, the councils of Hippo and Carthage. When the Catholic Church came together and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, they determined which books would make up the canon. There are 2 sections, the Old and New Testament.

Scripture and Tradition
As Catholics we are not people of the “Book” we are people of the “Word”, the Living Word of God. The word of God has come to us in 2 primary ways, the written word, and also the oral tradition, the tradition that was handed on from the lips of Jesus to the disciples, to their apostles, to their apostles guided by the Holy Spirit. We have both Scripture and Tradition. We stand in that great river of tradition when we speak of the word of God. The tradition, protects upholds and teaches. What makes this book so different is that it is inspired. The word inspiration comes from the word, “theonoustos”, which means “God” “breathed”. The Church uses a particular way to describe the word inspiration…the Holy Spirit is the principal author. Even though God used humans to be moved by the Holy Spirit, to write down human words, and only those words that the Holy Spirit wanted for the sake of your salvation.

Finding the “Story”
There are some real challenges when we start to read the bible. We expect to open Genesis 1… and read all the way to the book of Revelation and say… “That was a great story”. But it doesn’t happen that way, why? Because the bible is written differently than“Gone With The Wind”! It has 73 books and is organized by different types of literature. There is poetic literature, prophetic literature, historical literature, apocalyptic, the Gospels…. There are a huge variety of styles and this has to be taken into account when interpreting. Our teens today have lost the narrative thread of their life. They don’t know where they came from, they don’t know who they are and they don’t know where they are going. So what happens… you go in search, often in the wrong places or you despair. A lot of people despair when reading the bible when they can’t keep the story in front of them. The goal is to be able to read scripture like a story. The “Titanic” movie was a blockbuster hit. It was like a microcosm of the world on a ship, where you have celebration, romance, crime, disaster, and heroes. Girls from 10 to 18 went as many as 10 times, why? Because they like boats? No because they are in search of a story. That has a hero, sacrifice, romance, challenge… and they are hoping that it will happen to them.

Getting the “Big Picture”
We have to start with the big picture, that’s education. Reduce 73 books to 12 periods of salvation history that can be easily understood and memorized. It’s important to identify the books that are narrative in style. There are 14 of them.
Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Maccabees, Luke and Acts.  If you read those 14 books you’ll get the story. The other 59 books fit within the context of those 14 books. See why we skip Levictus, because when you come to Leviticus you tend to lose the story. Everyone wants a story. Great epics, movies, people learn through stories and this is the greatest story ever told. If you read 4 chapters a day of the 14 books, it would take you 3 months to get through those books. It’s important that our eyes come in contact with the text. To feel it, get it, feel the rhythm of the text, the story, to get it down into your heart. You won’t understand every detail, that’s ok; you have got the rest of your life to work it out. It’s important to pace yourself.

The Bible, a life long companion
I’ve been studying the bible now for 25 years and I am realizing now that I am just scratching the surface, it is so deep. As you study, pray. The same spirit that wrote this is the same spirit that will unlock the word for you. It’s a revelation, and a revelation needs to be revealed to us.