22 March 2007: Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent
John 5, 31- 47: Reading the Bible
Let us reflect on what Jesus says in the Gospel, “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life. It is they which bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
To the Jews, as to many other beliefs, the Scripture is everything: sola scriptura. The Jews searched the Law and the Scriptures about the Messiah, but failed to recognize Christ when he came. The best scholars of the Law failed to recognize the Messiah; the experts of the Law, who studies the Scriptures meticulously, rejected Jesus. How did the Jews miss the Messiah, which until today, they yearn for? Maybe they read scriptures the wrong way.
Some people would find a solution to a problem or a dilemma by closing one’s eyes and randomly opening the bible and putting his finger on any passage. In addition, some people read the Bible without regarding its historical context and background as if everything has been written apart from them.
Jesus tells us that the right way to read Scriptures is to read the Bible as pointing to Him who gives life. Therefore, the many things that you find in the Old Testament that distresses us, disturbs us, puzzle us, should be seen in the context of history, as leading to Jesus Christ, who is the Supreme revelation of God and whose other revelations are tested. For example, in the Old Testament, the 3rd Commandment says, “Keep Holy the Sabbath Day.” The Sabbath is Saturday. When Jesus resurrected on a Sunday, Catholics believe that Christ’s resurrection is the inauguration of a new creation — as St. Paul says of Jesus as the New Adam! Thus, we now declare the new Sabbath, Sunday. Thus every Sunday, including the Sundays of Lent, we celebrate Christ’s resurrection!
Thus the function of the Bible is not to give life, but to point to Jesus WHO gives life! All of the stories and people in the Old Testament points to Jesus, bearing witness to Him; and all other stories and people in the future also points to Jesus and bears witness to Jesus. And thus all that is written should lead us to the very source of life!
In the season of Lent, we can ask ourselves: How do we read the Bible? Do we read the Bible to support our arguments or our positions in life?
Or do we read the Bible to get to know Jesus more? Do we use the Bible as a means to get to know Jesus?