Fr Chris Thomas reflects on The Word of God

 

It struck me that during these days of isolation when things seem to be so confusing and we can’t meet in our churches to receive Christ sacramentally that at home we might reflect on the Scriptures and so meet the same Christ who wants us to have life and life in its fullness.

When I was a child my nana lived with us. She was bedridden and my mum looked after her. My dad was an alcoholic and when I couldn’t cope with his moods I would run and hide in my nana’s bed and she would read bible stories to me. It was very unusual for a woman born in the 1890s to read the Bible but Nana did. Even when I lost faith, I would still read the Scriptures because I loved the stories that I found there, and they reminded me of times when I found a little bit of peace in what was sometimes a traumatic childhood. The Scripture stories and nana’s calm presence were pools of light for me in the darkness. There was somewhere I felt safe. When God found me, I was fifteen and one of the first things that happened to me was that the Scriptures came alive. The stories that I had read to me for so many years took on new meaning as I discovered the presence of God in and through the Word. I’m convinced that through reading and praying the Scriptures we will encounter God in a new way.

The Christian Church believes the Scriptures are the Word of God, inspired by the spirit, written by communities of faith to help others on their faith journey, that God speaks to us through them. Every time we read them God will speak challenging us, comforting us. The Scriptures draw us into an experience of God an encounter with God where we know that God is alive and with us.

 

For most of us who are Catholic when we think of the presence of God we think about the Eucharist. We talk of the real presence, but you know the truth is that God is as really present in the Scriptures and in people as God is present in the Eucharist. Every time we read the Word, we enter into the presence of God. What do I mean by presence? Well I guess it’s that indescribable sense of relationship, where we know by faith that another is walking with us and addressing us and entering into the reality of our lives.

The Scriptures tell our story, our faith story, the difficulties we have in life, the challenges we have to face, the big questions that we wrestle with. Why am I here? Why do I exist? What’s suffering all about? They reveal the universal patterns of human experience. You know the questions that my mum asked when she was dying in a hospice in 1993 are the same questions that someone dying in first century Palestine would have asked. The Scriptures invite us to reflect on the way in which we love one another, the way we relate to one another and see one another. The Scriptures say to us that loving one another is not about coming to church services, it’s about justice, mercy and truth.

So, pray the Scriptures of the day, the ones usually read at Mass and see what it does for you. A tool that can help us pray the Scriptures by ourselves or with members of our household at this time is the ancient practice of Lectio Divina.

  • Listen.

  • Silence.

  • Recall the story with another person if you are able or by yourself.

  • Read it again stopping wherever you want to stop, with whatever word or phrase captures your attention.

  • Silence.

  • If you are able, share with another person what has struck you in the reading.

  • If there is no-one else with you, then record it on paper so that looking back you can see what God has been saying to you.