All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NABRE)
The above quote underscores the importance of scripture in the lives of Christians. The Bible (in all of its versions) contains both the Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. It is important to note that while God inspired all scripture, it was written in the words of men. As such, there are anomalies having to do with translation and interpretation that in no way compromise the integrity and inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. The Bible, then, conveys God’s saving truth, faithfully and without error. The following quote is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
God inspired the human authors of the sacred books. “To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their own faculties and powers so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.” (CCC 106, cit. Dei Verbum 11)
Knowledge of Scripture
There are many ways to study and reflect on the books within the Bible. Selecting a passage for daily, private meditation and parish Bible studies are two examples. In addition to the Bible itself, there are many commentaries and Catholic study Bibles that contain commentary with expanded footnotes. In the lectionary for Sunday Mass, selections from every book of the Bible can be heard over the course of a three-year cycle. Each year, in cycles A, B and C, all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are featured. The Gospel According to John is utilized throughout all three years, especially in the Christmas and Easter seasons.
Every Christian is called to be a good steward of God’s gifts. Knowledge of Sacred Scripture along with its proper application for building up God’s Kingdom on Earth, is stewardship at its finest. The following passage from Matthew’s Gospel illustrates how scripture can be used effectively in the life of every Christian:
“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52 RSVCE)
Themes in Scripture
While “bringing out” the treasures of the Bible chapter and verse can be impressive, it is not the only way to reference scripture. The sweeping themes of God’s love and forgiveness are woven throughout the Old and New Testaments. The repentance of God’s children along with contrition and renewal are also to be found throughout the Bible. The parables that Jesus gave are lessons that are meant to be received and remembered much in the same way as any story conveyed through a book, movie or play.
Using “Star Wars” as an example, the overall theme of a universal force and the battle between good and evil can be noted without particular quotes from the movie. Even particular characters (Jar-Jar Binks) and scenes (The Cantina) can be excluded without diminishing the core of the work. The same can be said of Sacred Scripture. The Prodigal Son account can be used as an excellent example of repentance and forgiveness without the “scenes” of dissolute living and sleeping with pigs, or the bitterness of the elder brother for that matter.
A Portable Library
The Bible has been described as a library that consists of many books and genres. The word of God in the words of men inspired by The Holy Spirit and expressed in exquisitely diverse ways. These canonized books speak of God, His children, Salvation History and life in Christ here on Earth and the promise of eternal life in Heaven.
Being a good steward of Sacred Scripture, then, involves storing the teachings, parables and God’s countless expressions of His love in our hearts, being always ready to appropriate any and all items that will serve the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Let us pray to be good stewards and teachers of God’s word as we journey together as disciples of Christ.