Listen to this story:
How could Scripture possibly apply to our daily life? Sadly, many think of Scripture as an outdated and unhistorical fiction that has little to do with the world or even the faith. Jesus’ words can be read as a nice moral and all the rest that doesn’t make sense can be skipped over.
But for most of history, this was not the case. St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
This seems harsh to our modern ears, but for the earliest Christians, the Church Fathers foremost among them, Scripture was the foundation of the faith.
The Scriptures reveal our place in the family of God and point to the Mass as the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation. When we understand the Scriptures, we understand that we’re made for more. We encounter God in God’s Word. We discover an ancient way of thinking about ourselves and about the Church.
But how do we read Scripture? How do we understand seemingly impossible passages?
“Scripture, as a whole, is God’s One Perfect and Complete Instrument.” –Origen
When we read Scripture from the heart of the Church—the Old and New Testaments together as a coherent story revealing our place in the world—then suddenly the Scriptures become the key that unlocks everything, including the Mass.
Liturgy is central to the story of the Scriptures, and that’s true of both the Old and New Testaments. The books of the Bible were written to be read in the context of the liturgy, of the Mass. And the Mass fulfills the many prophecies and foreshadowing of the Old Testament: Abraham and Isaac; Melchizedek; the Passover; and many more.
This is why in Mass we hear readings from both the Old and New Testaments. And the readings we hear at Mass aren’t arbitrary or random—they tell a story, both within the readings for that week and within a broader context.
If we aren’t in tune with the Scriptures, we miss out on a large gift of the Church as she guides us through the liturgical year. For example, we might be confused if we show up to Sunday Mass the week before Christmas and hear readings about the end of the world. But during the season of Advent, the Church reminds us that as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s first coming, we should also prepare our souls for His second coming.
More than even this, the Scriptures open a whole new appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist. The Scriptures are steeped in sacrifice and in promises for an everlasting covenant. With an understanding of Scripture, we gain an understanding of the incredible place we occupy in history. What God’s people in the Old Testament could only dream of, we enter into every time we receive the Blessed Sacrament. We are living in the New Covenant. We are living as God’s sons and daughters. This is something that thousands before us could only await with faithful expectation.
Studying Scripture doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You don’t have to be a scholar or an expert, because there are many apostolates, such as Scott Hahn’s St. Paul Center, that are full of resources to help open the Scriptures to people of every age.
Make 2022 the year of opening the Scriptures in your life. Start with something as simple as preparing for the Sunday Mass readings in a more meaningful way. Why study Scripture? Quoting St. Augustine’s commentary on Psalm 91, we begin to understand that the Scriptures are letters from our heavenly home.
“The Holy City is not the Church of this country only, but of the whole world as well: not that of this age only, but from Abel himself down to those who shall to the end be born and believe in Christ, the whole assembly of the Saints, belonging to one city… Letters have reached us too from that city, apart from which we are wandering: those letters are the Scriptures, which exhort us to live well.”