Sunday, August 9, 2015

God speaks to us. But are we listening?

All kinds of people sometimes brood about their “bad luck.”  But not so fast! Listen, like Elijah, to the voice of God and let God re-energize you so that you can persevere in doing all the good you can.  Perseverance often makes the difference between success and failure.

Paul in his letter to the Christian community at Ephesus in Turkey says that the Spirit of God in the waters of baptism has sealed/marked us as sons and daughters of God. We belong to Jesus Christ!

And in the Gospel according to John, Jesus says he is the bread of life who can transform us into new creatures.

As a community of disciples, we nourish our spiritual life at the table of the Lord with the bread of life.   We also nourish our spiritual life with the Word of God.

God speaks with us through the Bible, a privileged form of conversation between God and us, a two-way conversation. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. God authored the Bible in the sense that the Bible includes what God wants us to know about God, the universe and His design or purpose for us.

But the human authors were real authors.  They employed the languages, images, literary genres, and worldviews they knew.  They were communicating religious truths, not scientific truths, about God, the universe and ourselves.

The Bible is a library of books: prose and poetry, fiction and history, myths and legends, historical narratives and short stories, genealogies and sermons, parables and letters, songs and codes of law, etc. Some books in the Bible evolved over decades; others over centuries.  In fact, the Bible was written over a period of 1500 years by at least 40 authors.

Read the Bible prayerfully: not to find specific answers to questions the biblical authors never thought about, but to become the kind of person for our day that Jesus was for his day.

Catholics and many fundamentalists do agree about certain beliefs.  But they disagree in understanding the Bible.  We say, e.g., the sun rises at/sets at.  Actually the sun doesn’t rise or set; these phrases are a way of speaking.  Knowing the literary genre the ancient Jewish authors employ helps us discover what God is trying to say to us.

The creation stories, e.g., communicate certain religious truths:  God is our awesome Creator; we are creatures absolutely dependent upon God; everything God created is good; man and woman are made in the image of God; they had friendship with God but fell from grace; they lost that friendship.  But the literary genre the ancient Jewish authors used to communicate these religious truths were ancient near eastern mythologies.

The global Catholic Church is a biblical community of disciples in the sense that it acknowledges and proclaims the Bible as the Word of God in human form.  In particular, the Scriptures point to Jesus of Nazareth as the unique or definitive revelation of God.

The Church as a community of disciples considers itself as the instrument of the Spirit in guiding us toward our heavenly home in the light of new problems in new generations and in new cultures.

Yes, the Word of God speaks to us today. But are we listening to God speaking with us in the Scriptures, especially in the liturgy?

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