His Words Delight Our Hearts

Friday of Week 9 in Ordinary Time - Cycle II

2 Tim. 3:10-17 & Mk. 12:35-37

"Ever since you were a child you have known the holy scriptures." Could these word of Saint Paul to Timothy be said of you and me? Those of us who belong to the older generation can remember that knowledge of the Bible was restricted to the Gospels and some of the Paul's letters!

The good reason for this was to safeguard us from false interpretations. It was thought that if everyone read the Bible without the guidance of the Church people could easily fall into error. It was only from the time of Pope Pius XII that we have been encouraged to delve into the whole of the Bible. This led to new translations, a new psalter, and the lectionary which we use at Mass.

The Bible, from the first to the last page, is full of examples with messages of how to lead holy lives. By reading it we come to know how God operates and how we can obey His will. The more familiar we are with the Word of God, the more we will come to love Him and serve Him in this world.

In reading the Bible we have to be careful. We need guidance. We cannot be left to our own devices to arrive at our personal interpretation. Even the Devil can quote scripture for his own purposes as we know from when he tempted Jesus in the desert. The Church has to be our teacher in order to preserve us from all error although it has difficulty in understanding some passages of scripture as with, for example, the Book of Revelation which is veiled in mystery. If the wisdom of the Church has this difficulty who are we to think we can interpret it by ourselves?

We should read our Bible prayerfully and thoughtfully, but always having regard for the Church's teaching. We can have the same trusting attitude as a child constructing a model who needs to call on the wisdom and experience of his father to help. How fortunate we are that God has given us the authority of the Church to teach us, to refute error, to guide our lives and teach us to be holy.

Jesus was certainly a challenging teacher Who had no problem confronting people with their sin and calling them to live according to a very high standard. But the people often "heard Him with delight” - even when those very words called upon them to repent of their past or demand something difficult. This was because He was able to reach beyond the objections of our fallen nature and speak directly to our hearts.

By the power of His Spirit, Jesus can touch the deepest part of us and shine His light on the desire to please God, to be freed from sin and to become instruments of His love in this world. Somehow, we sense that the words Jesus speaks to us are the very words we need to hear, even when they do not make for easy listening.

How important it is that we remain open to hearing the words of Jesus, the hard as well as the easy! Ultimately, all of Jesus' words are meant to bring healing and restoration, no matter how difficult or even painful. But Jesus is just as patient a teacher as He is persistent. All He asks is that we keep an open heart and rely on His Spirit's power to change us.

Lord Jesus, open our ears to hear Your voice. Give us hearts that treasure your words and humbly accept everything You say to us. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.