Message From The Assistant Priest
Sunday 7th October 2007
TWENTY SEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR IN ORDINARY TIME + CYCLE C READINGS.
MESSAGE FROM THE ASSISTANT PRIEST.
The Bible: how well do we know it? I ask this question because, as St Jerome says, 'the person who does not know the Bible does not know Christ'. What does St Jerome mean? I would suggest that he means what he says! If we do not know the Bible, the Word of God, the Scriptures (they are all the same thing), then how can we possibly know Christ?
It is a bit like a cookery book. How can you really know how to cook without something to teach you? Usually, it is a cookery book that points you in the right direction. If not a cook book, then it is your mother or big sister or someone else that teaches you how to cook. The point is, no-one can 'just cook'. They can try, but in trying it will be a little difficult to know that you are turning the gas up to the right temperature, putting in the right amount of salt etc.
As no-one can 'just cook', no-one can 'just know Christ'. We have to be taught. One of the three primary functions of a priest is to teach. So it is my responsibility, and Fr Connolly's responsibility, to teach people about Christ. We are like that someone who teaches you how to cook. But if you want to make headway yourself, you have to as it were put on the oven gloves and see for yourself.
This illustration of cooking is probably getting tedious, but I hope you see what I mean. It is absolutely vital, if we are to be true followers of Christ, not simply to be 'blind followers', but, more than that, to make efforts ourselves at seeing how He speaks to us. And He speaks to us most of all in the Scriptures, the Word of God, the Bible. Do not forget that Christ Himself is the Word of God. (Remember the beginning of St John's Gospel? In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.) So Christ Himself isn't just like another character in the Scriptures, He is the Scriptures.
Now obviously I do not mean that He is the pages and the glue and the ink that make up the Bible. As the Word who is there in the beginning (Psalm 92 says, from all eternity, O Lord YOU ARE), Jesus Christ is the means through which God makes Himself known to us.
The Bible is a love story. That is because it is the story of God, Who is love. The story is in three acts. Act I is about creation. Act II is about the fall. Act III is about redemption. Three stages: set, upset and reset. Or, to crib Milton, Paradise, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained.
Now without going into too much detail, the Bible is God's revelation. That means that it is not the product of human speculation. God uses human authors, in all their sinfulness and weakness, to write the text. (Incidentally this is not how the Koran is alleged to have been written. In the Koran, Muslims believe, it is the angel Gabriel that simply 'drives' Mohammed's hand.) But although He uses human authors, He inspires them. When we have a good idea, we often write it down. The authors of the different books of the Bible were responding to the good ideas that hit them from God as He poured them forth.
There are many things that the Bible gives us: truth, power and perhaps above all, life. Jesus calls it a seed (Lk 8). A seed is a living, growing thing. Hebrews 4.12 says that 'the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit ...discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart'. Physical swords only give death; the Bible gives life. Physical swords cut bodies; this sword of the Word of God cuts open souls and heals them. The life is above all a 'spiritual life'. It is a life that has us share in the supernatural life of God. When you read the Bible, watch out! It will do things to you. Its Author is reading you from within. But because the Author is God-Who-is-Love, then this should not frighten us too much. In fact, it should give us joy. This is a joy that does not depend on anything earthly (friends, happy marriages, nice children, good job etc.). It is a letter that comes directly from God. To use a computer-style terminology, God does not send junk mail or spam.
The words 'I love you' are wonderful to hear. They change us, they 'make the heart leap'. They bring us the greatest joy that we can experience on earth. How much more when we hear them from the Creator. And we hear them from the Creator in the Bible (cfr. Peter Kreeft, You can Understand the Bible).
If you would like to learn more about the Bible, simply get yourself a copy, and start not at the beginning, but with St Mark's Gospel. It is short. It is familiar. As you read, ask God to help you. He will change your life, on the inside.
I hope that everyone has a happy week. I shall pray for you all in Medjugorje.
Fr John Flynn
Bidding Prayers for 27th Sunday C
Priest: O God our heavenly Father - we come to this sacrifice of prayer and praise with hearts intent upon seeking your holy will in all things.
Reader: We pray for our country with its diverse peoples - that we may live in harmony and mutual respect as children of the One God who is Father of us all. Lord hear us.
For those who struggle to have Faith in God and his Church; for those who doubt the truth taught us by Christ - that he who is the Way and the Truth will strengthen our weak faith and bring us together in confident trust in God's power. Lord hear us.
For all those who being instructed in the Faith - that they may grasp with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Mystery of Christ and so find happiness and peace of mind. Lord hear us.
For all pregnant mothers that they will be happy with the prospect of bearing a child and welcome it as our Lord welcomed his little ones and gave each a guardian angel. Lord hear us.
For all our dear sick and those who care for them: Michael Naughton, Karen Williams, Sheila Delaney, Peggy Walsh, Jean Corrigan, Christine Keary, Cath Mahoney, Kitty Higgins, Ellen Faran and Elizabeth Wallace...Lord hear us.
And for all those who have died recently and those families who mourn for them: Angela Duffy, Elsie Lyons, Afram Zair (who died in Syria) 11.00 Mass and all those whose anniversaries occur about this time: John Morris Junior, Mary Woodworth Frances Dutton, Patrick Garrett, William Sparrow and Ciss Connolly, James Leonard and Jack Grady
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen.
Mary Most Holy, Mary most loving - pray for your children who seek Christ's help: Hail Mary, full of grace...
Priest: Lord, accept these prayers we offer you and grant that your Holy Church may experience the power of your saving life. Through Christ our Lord.