Imagine getting into a conversation with a friend and asking him/her to tell you about his/her spouse or some other significant person whom he/she claims to love, and he/she comes up completely blank—unable to describe what that person looks like, what personality characteristics he/she has, or what stories reveal that person’s essence. You would no doubt be suspicious (and rightly so) about whether or not your friend truly knows this other person or if this other person actually exists! When we are in a relationship with someone, we come to know that person intimately and are able to talk about him/her to others.
In the same way, it is not enough for us to say that we believe in God. To truly believe in God is to be in an intimate relationship with God and capable of talking about God—sharing with others the truth, beauty, and goodness that God has revealed to us. One of the most profound ways that God reveals himself to us is through Sacred Scripture. Through the stories of Scripture, we come to know the “face” and “voice” of God. As catechists, one of the most powerful ways that we can help those we teach to come to know the face and voice of God is to deepen their knowledge of Scripture.
First, it is important for us to be able to distill the story of salvation history that reveals God’s love to us. In my book, Living the Sacraments: Finding God at the Intersection of Heaven and Earth, I suggest that all of salvation history can be summed up in what I call the “Three R’s”—rescue, restoration, and reassurance. Scripture reveals that our God is a God who rescues us from the brokenness of sin (by sending us his only Son, Jesus Christ), restores us to right relationship with him (through the Death and Resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ), and reassures us of his presence (through the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist).
Second, it is important for us to know the stories of Sacred Scripture. To grow in your understanding of the stories of the Old Testament, I recommend Jim Campbell’s wonderful book, The Stories of the Old Testament. To get to know the stories of the Gospels, I recommend God with Us: The Story of Jesus as Told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This wonderful new book reconstructs the story of Jesus chronologically, providing a biblically based biography of Jesus—from the announcement of his birth to his Resurrection.
Third, it is important that we are able to navigate and understand the contents of the Bible. I recommend my book, The Bible Blueprint: A Catholic’s Guide to Understanding and Embracing God’s Word, which identifies how the Bible is constructed, how we find our way around the Bible, and how we, as Catholics, are called to interpret these ancient and sometimes confusing texts.
Finally, I recommend that you regularly practice the act of enthroning the Bible in your learning space. Enthronement is the ritual act of holding the Bible up for all to see as you walk with it in procession to a prayer table, where it is reverently placed on a Bible stand (surrounded by other sacred objects and decorations) and bowed to. This act of reverence highlights and expresses the importance of God’s Word in our midst.
Since 1941, in the United States, the week of Thanksgiving has been designated as National Bible Week. Let’s continue to use this time as an opportunity to deepen all Catholics’ knowledge and appreciation for Sacred Scripture so that we can better know and describe God’s face and voice to others.