29th Sunday OT Year C:
Today in our second reading St. Paul teaches us about Scripture. The holy Bible, the Sacred Scriptures, have been called the Word of God. St Paul tells us today that they are capable of giving us wisdom for salvation. Wow, wisdom for salvation! How often do we think of the Bible in these terms, do we make the Bible an important part of our lives? Have we, like St. Timothy, known these Scriptures from our youth or do we need to get to know them?
Many people can be somewhat intimidated by the Bible. First of all it is a big book, there are actually 73 books in the Bible: 46 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. It can also be a difficult book to read: Sure, books like Genesis or the gospels are full of narrative, which makes them easy. But, books like Leviticus, or even the prophets can be very difficult to read. Then there are many things in the Bible which are difficult for us to understand, like our gospel passage today: is Jesus saying that God is like an unjust judge? Actually he is not. Rather, Jesus is employing a story-telling technique that makes a connection between two things that are only barely alike. If the unjust judge will deliver justice because of persistence, how much more will God, who is supremely just…
Yet, for all its difficulties and obscurities, the Bible is worth the effort. It is the word of God. Paul says: all Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, refutation, and training in righteousness. Inspired by God! The word St. Paul uses here is theopnuestos, which literally means "God breathed." What a beautiful expression! God is the one who breathes out the words of Scripture. They are written by human authors, but God breathes in and through them. It is almost as if the human writers provide the voice, but God provides the air that breathes out the words. What an unbelievable treasure we have here! When you hold the Bible in your hands, you are holding God's word, God's breath. The Bible is not just some ordinary book or novel.
Paul says that Scripture is useful for teaching. Today in the first reading we hear about the role of Moses in the battle versus Amalek. We hear how God worked through the hands of Moses to give aid and strength to his people in their time of need. When we read the Bible, we learn our story. We are the spiritual descendents of Moses. The Bible is our story, and when we read it the Bible teaches us about where we come from.
Paul says that Scripture is useful for the training in righteousness. In our struggle against sin and our desire to be faithful disciples of Jesus, the Bible can train us in righteousness. Look at the Gospel, Jesus teaches us to pray without becoming weary. There are many of us, here in this parish, who are weary. One of the most humbling aspects of being a priest is the fact that people share with me their struggles: Many of you are struggling with a family situation. Many of you are struggling with an illness. Many of you are struggling with some kind of sin. Christ is telling us in the Scriptures that all of us struggle, all of us grow weary. Yet, Jesus tells us to keep up our prayers, remain faithful even in the midst of our struggles. This is truly training in righteousness: even in the midst of our difficulties, even when we are weary, the only way through these tough times is faithfulness.
Paul gives Timothy a stern command at the end of the reading: proclaim the word. This command is given to each one of us as well. Drawing close to Christ, being his disciple, always includes an evangelical aspect. The faith cannot remain our own personal possession; rather, the faith impels us outward to share the good news with others. This is another important reason for us to become well-acquainted with the Holy Bible. Not only can these inspired words give us the wisdom for salvation, but when we share them with others, we share with them this wisdom as well. The better we know the Scriptures, the better we will be able to help others get to know Christ.
In the Holy Scriptures we encounter the Word of God: Jesus Christ himself. No wonder then that the Church has always read the Bible when it gathers around the altar. Here at this holy Mass we encounter Christ, first when we read the holy Scriptures, second in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, and the Bible is the Word of God. The holy Mass helps us to fulfill our mission: to proclaim the word. Here we are strengthened by the Holy Eucharist and formed by the word of God so that when we go forth from this Mass we can share with others the wisdom for salvation.