Readings for February 17, 2019
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
I have a friend who, a number of years ago when I was working for him, told me in the car on the way to the airport for a business trip that he was reading the Bible beginning to end. I asked him why and he told me, “I have this thought that when I die and St. Peter introduces me to God at the gates of heaven, the only question he’s going to ask is, ‘Did you read my Book?’ So I’m reading His book.”
I know some in my own life that lay claim to being “bible Christians.” I would offer that there is no other way to be Christian. It is, as I once told a friend, a distinction without a difference. “All the Christian faithful need to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (St. Jerome, CCC 133). Without knowledge of God’s law, we are susceptible to false claims and false teachings, neither of which will lead us to the blessings God has in store for us.
For example, St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that some of their beliefs are contrary to what Jesus, the Word made flesh, taught and lived through his death and resurrection. He calls them out saying, “you are still in your sins.” It is evident from St. Paul’s teaching that we simply cannot know God, and subsequently cannot do His will, without knowing Him through the Word. As the psalmist proclaims, “Blessed the man who … delights in the law of the Lord.”
However, the Word can be a tough read. The beatitudes, which literally translates to “happiness,” don’t exactly point us to a life of easy living. In it, the poor, the sorrowful, and the hated are all blessed and should “rejoice and leap for joy.” In contrast, the rich, those that are filled in this life, and those that receive high esteem, are all in danger of missing out on the everlasting happiness that Jesus offers.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the way to “happiness” is only paved in poverty, sadness, and alienation. Jesus had friends with great wealth and of high esteem, among them Lazarus and Nicodemus. And Abraham was so wealthy he had to move to a new land so not to disrupt the peace of the kingdom (GEN 3:2-12). But it seems that Jesus is offering a warning to those who relentlessly chase earthly happiness, earthly wealth, and earthly esteem–a warning that they risk missing out on the rich rewards of heaven.
In each day of our lives we choose what activities fill our time, and what we reap is in part reflective of what we sow, and perhaps in part reflective of what we do not sow. If I am rich, well liked, or otherwise endowed, I need to examine how I came upon that wealth. Do I sow seeds only for earthly rewards? Have I been overly distracted with investing in my career, failing to sow seeds that grow my faith? Do I know my business better than I know God’s law and will for my life?
I need to fill my time with what blesses me, and I cannot know what that is without knowledge of the Word. We are to “meditate on His law day and night.” If God is to write His law on my heart, I need to know it well. I simply cannot know God, and then do His will, without knowing Him through the Word. Only then can I be blessed.
My Lord Jesus, as the Word made flesh, you offered me more than the words of the prophets and kings. You have offered me an example with your life, death, and resurrection. May I continue to seek knowledge of you through scripture and teaching and forever live the joy of the gospel. Amen