The Scriptures aren’t just something we read communally at Mass; they are the living fount of wisdom for each of us personally as well. I’m often astonished at how frequently I pick up my bible and read the gospel of the day…or even just a passage at random…and discover the words are directly related to something I’m going through at the moment. Or I’ll re-read an old familiar passage only to discover something I had never noticed before. (For instance, did you realize that the gospel describes the people waiting for the loaves and fishes as being arranged “as if in flower beds”?)
But it’s more than that. When you fly, the flight attendants stress putting on your own oxygen mask before you attempt to help someone else in an emergency. It’s a good metaphor for the spiritual life as well. We can’t begin to “hand on the faith” or be “witnesses to the Gospel” if we aren’t grounded and rooted in the faith and the Gospel ourselves.
Have you ever read the Gospels? Not just heard passages from them at Mass, but actually sat down and read them from beginning to end? What about Acts? The Epistles? And I’m not even going to mention the Old Testament.
Perhaps the single most practical things we can do to “rededicate” ourselves to the mission of our faith community is to read the words our faith holds sacred. While Bible studies are helpful, nothing quite substitutes for just reading the text. Undoubtedly, you will be puzzled by some things and even question others, but now is not the time to do an exegesis. Now is the time to immerse yourself in the message and let the words flow from the page to your heart.
As I wrote this, I pulled my Bible from the shelf and opened the New Testament at random. Now I don’t recommend this as a usual reading method, because it smacks too much of using the Scriptures as a divination device, but sometimes, when I want to be fully open to whatever message God might have for me, I will do it. Today the pages opened to 1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude.” I had to smile because I had just finished a conversation with a friend who was trying to convince me that certain foods were “bad” and should never be eaten. I had countered that no food is bad per se, but all things should be consumed in moderation. (So much for having an entire row of Oreos for lunch!) Once again, the living Word provided words for living.
This year, prepare yourself to hand on the Faith by first handling your own Faith with care—and the support of Scripture.