Living the Scripture
“In accordance with the Scriptures”
Our Creed is steeped in Scripture. We’ve seen scriptural references in some of our reflections, so while this particular line in the Creed isn’t given until almost more than halfway through, it is clear that the Creed echoes scripture throughout. It has to. Scripture, with Tradition, is our faith. But what are we to do with that? How are we meant to live in accordance with the Scripture? Well, to do that, we have to know what the scripture says. We are certainly exposed to scripture in Mass - Mass is literally dripping with scriptural references. But some books are only read occasionally while others are left out of the readings altogether. This means we have to do a little bit of outside work to make sure we are getting the Bible’s full message. We should read the entire Bible. It is certainly a task. Seventy-three books with a variety of genres, written in a historical period and culture from which we are deeply removed. It is difficult to read even some of the books that are narratives. Some of us might take our entire lives to read the Bible well. This is certainly okay; we certainly shouldn’t rush through the Bible. If we do, we might miss the richness or even misinterpret. My task now is to give us a brief overview that can help us look at how we can continue to live according to the Scriptures, even as we are still muddling through its robust and deeply beautiful pages.
The Hebrew Scriptures is largely the story of a people (the Israelites) and their relationship with God. They are first encountered by God in Genesis (through Abraham) and saved from slavery (through Moses) and are asked to form a relationship with God through the covenant, in which they are to follow the Commandments and Laws that are in accord with who God is. The people agree to the covenant and yet continually break it. And still, God remains faithful. No matter how many times the people disobey and stray, God does not abandon them. God is modeling for us how we are to be; we are to remain faithful to God by living as God wants us to - loving God by loving each other (and ourselves).
The Christian Scriptures is largely the story of a person and the influence of that person’s life. The Gospels tell us the story of Jesus and the Letters tell us about how Jesus moved the heart’s of people and how we must now live because of that person. We are privy to Jesus’ teachings (much of which comes from the Hebrew Scriptures, since he was in fact Jewish) and the transmission of those teachings throughout. Through Jesus’ teachings, we also get this message of loving God, others, and ourselves. It is this that gets passed onto the disciples and passed onto the world. In short, the Bible as a whole calls us to love.
This might seem like an oversimplification and it is certainly is. How could anyone, even the most premier Biblical Scholar (of which I am certainly not claiming to be), fit 73 books in a few lines? No, the understanding of the Bible is certainly a lifelong journey as is our faith. As you continue on your journey and wrestle with scripture, I hope that you too find this at the core of it all. If not, maybe read it again.