Sunday, July 16
In the Gospel for this week, we hear the parable of the sower. Jesus explains that the seed that is sown is the word. The word is living and is life-giving for those who are open to receive it. It bears much fruit in their lives and in the world around them.
We, who are surrounded by books and magazines and newspapers, and who are familiar with printed Bibles, hear “word,” and we immediately think of the written word. That would not have been true in Jesus’ time. Almost 1,500 years before the invention of the printing press, the Scriptures would have been on handwritten scrolls. Only the largest and wealthiest synagogues of the time would have had scrolls for all of what we call the Old Testament. They probably had the Torah (or Pentateuch) only. Also, very few of the people, including most of the rabbis, were able to read and write. This was the job of the scribes, whom we hear about in the Gospels.
As a result, when people of Jesus’ time heard “word,” they thought, not of the written word, but of the spoken word. In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we hear that God “said,” “Let there be light, and there was light.” On each of the six days, God spoke his Word, and creation was born. The word, then, is a powerful, life-giving word. God’s Word was the Big Bang that we hear about today.
The Prologue to the Gospel of John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word took flesh and dwelt among us.” The living, creative and powerful Word spoken by God is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ.
When the Church speaks of the Word, then, this is what she means. Not a written word on the page that simply conveys certain information, but the living, creative, powerful Word of God, who is God. When we read or listen to the Scriptures, it is this Word that we receive, and if we allow it to, it will completely transform us by its power. This is why the Church encourages us to read the Bible regularly, and I, as your pastor, will be addressing this topic over and over.
Every one of you should have a Bible. I do not believe in family Bibles. A Bible is like a toothbrush. It is too personal an item to be shared with others. Family Bibles are often very beautiful, and perhaps serve to keep important family information. But they are almost never read. If you have a Bible for more than five years and it is not ready to fall apart, it is doing you absolutely no good. Read your Bible!!!!
Where to begin? If you are just beginning your efforts at reading the Bible, I suggest that you start with one of the four Gospels. We are reading from the Gospel of Matthew on Sunday throughout this year, so that is a good place to begin. Don’t try to read it all at once. Read, perhaps a chapter a day, or even a few verses. Read, reread, and reflect on what you have read. Do not worry if you do not understand everything. That is okay. Hopefully, you will be doing this for the rest of your lives.
Put you Bible where you will read it. On your nightstand, for instance. Or, a bit more intimately, in the bathroom.
— Fr. Mike Comer