11/12/2017 - IMMERSED IN SCRIPTURE: WONDER, JOY, AND GRATITUDE
Immersed in Scripture: Wonder, Joy, and Gratitude
After I experienced how our first grade catechist, Mrs. Sandra, presented the Bible to her first graders, I realized the best way for me to introduce the Bible to our Parish Family was through the eyes of our first graders.
In early September I was blessed to be present in Mrs. Sandra's first grade classroom for her presentation of the Bible to her class. I want to now share what I experienced with you.
She began by telling them that today they were going to receive a special gift from God. When the children heard this, they were filled with wonder: wow! What could this gift possibly be? When she showed them a Bible that was beautifully wrapped with several layers of wrapping paper the children became joyful. The children rejoiced as each one of them was involved in removing a layer of paper or reading a prayer or description of what this wondrous gift from God was. Once all the layers of wrapping paper were removed, the children were filled with joy as they could see this gift with their own eyes, hold it in their hands, open it and see and read the words! The wonder and joy of the children then became pure gratitude: they were so grateful that we have a Good and Loving Father who blesses His children with good gifts!
The Bible is a treasure chest that is filled and overflowing with goodness. The whole scope of our homily series, Immersed in Scripture, is to get you into this goodness! And our first graders have already shown us all the way: to approach God's Holy Word with a sense of wonder, joy, and gratitude.
The Bible is not a textbook, nor is it a dead frog in your biology class to be dissected. The Bible is a stack of letters that your Father in heaven has written to you. We approach the Bible with a sense of wonder: what will the Lord work in my life today? What will the Lord show me today? What will the Lord say to me today?
When we approach God's Holy Word with a sense of wonder, we too experience joy as we hold His Word in our hands. You and I can hold the Word of God in our hands. We can feel, touch, open, flip pages, read, listen to and hear the voice of our Creator and Redeemer! The Bible is always available for us to hold and to seek the consolation of hearing our Lord's voice.
Wonder and joy open us up to a profound sense of gratitude. In Psalm 119, King David tells us that God's Holy Word is a lamp for our feet. In a moment of darkness or foggy confusion, when we open the Bible, it begins a bright light that our Lord shines on our life and on the path we ought to take. And for this, we experience gratitude.
In moments of bitterness, when we open the Bible, we are touched by its sweetness. God's Word is sweeter than honey, and for this we are grateful.
God's Word is also a sword and shield. When we are assaulted by doubts about who God is, how could this have happened, God's Word is a shield that protects us from the assault the devil is waging against our life of faith. The Bible is also a two edge sword that can break chains and cut through doubt and uncertainty.
I am asking every person in the parish to take that next step towards establishing a prayer corner, or prayer wall, or prayer room in their homes. I would like everyone to have their prayer space in place by the first weekend of Advent, the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd. I also want you to place your Bible in a place of prominence in your prayer space. The tangible reality of a prayer space with your Bible in a place of importance will help remind you daily of the goal of our life of prayer: to recognize and enjoy the presence of Jesus at all times. Your Bible and prayer space will be an invitation to you to be faithful to a basic structure of prayer: every morning and every evening. Sitting in your prayer space with God's Word will help you experience the three main expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. (Please listen to the homily from last Sunday on our parish website for some other helpful tips!)
Start with the Book of Psalms. The Book of Psalms is composed of 150 of the most beautiful prayers, poems, and hymns. What a beautiful way to start your day: a cup of coffee in your hand as your prayerfully read a Psalm.
Another great place to start is the Gospel of St. John. What a wonderful way to start your day: cup of coffee or tea in your hand as you grow accustomed to hearing our Father speak to you about His Son and about how much you mean to Him!
Wishing you a blessed week and remember to pray for each other.
In Jesus and Mary,