Weekly Reflection 7/12/2020

Understanding the Word of God

July 11-12, 2020

Mark Twain once said “It is not those passages of scripture I do not understand that bother me, but those that I do understand.” Understanding asserts the ability to acquire, organize, evaluate, and interpret information.  If ” all scripture is inspired by God and useful for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives and teaching them to be upright” (2Tim.3:16),  how does one go about understanding the word of God?  It is daunting without guidance. Rejoice!

First, acquire a more recent, updated translated, Catholic bible; ie, Rev. Std. Version (2nd Cath. Ed.), New Jerusalem Bible (STD. Ed.), Navarre Bible (Rev. STD. Version with commentary).  Two new bibles for 2020 are: Augustine Bible (English Std. Version – catholic Ed.) and Word on Fire (new revised std. version) with commentary especially from Bishop Barron. You should be aware that bibles are translated using different approachs  (a) the word for word (literal), (b) thought for thought , or (c) dynamic equivalent (the gist of its meaning).  It is helpful to have one of (a) and (c) to understand the passage; ie, pit vs. grave.

Second, acquire a good commentary to interpret the passage’s meaning (New Jerome Biblical Com., Cath. Com. on Sacred Scripture), or bibles with included commentary (ST. Ignatius Catholic study bible Rev. STD Version( 2nd Cath. Ed.).  Third, join (free) or purchase a course available online, ie, St. Paul center, EWTN, etc., or attend courses currently provided through SFDS ( see church bulletin).  See Luke 24: 25-27 for the best bible study course! Also, you may enroll in Doc. Brandt Pitre commentaries on all four of the Sunday’s readings.  Fourth, pray for wisdom and understanding from the Holy Spirit.  See James 1:5; Ps 111:10.

Fifth, read the introduction to the bible and each book in the bible to get a better understanding of: background, author, audience and themes. Read the passage and place yourself in the scene as an eyewitness and meditate on it.  Read it slowly again listening to each word.  A word may catch your ear that you didn’t before notice.  Read the commentary.  Never take the passage out of its written context ( the verse, chapter, book, and God’s story).

Sixth, read the New Testament in the light of the Old Testament, and Old Testament as revealed in the New Testament; ie, why did Jesus give Simon the Keys of the Kingdom and call him rock? Why are the priest in the order of Melchizedek and not Aaron?  The answers to these and other actions of Jesus are found in the Old Testament as He explained to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Scripture is God’s story of how He has tried to make us His adopted sons/ daughters, and what our answer has been (good and bad).  The Word of God (Jesus) came to teach us how by His example to enter His Kingdom.  See John 1:1-34.  Understanding the word of God (scripture) is the best way to know how to follow Him.  And yet, maybe the hard part is not understanding the word of God, but believing, living it obediently, and trusting in God completely.

Mac Hickey