Question: When Holy Communion is distributed why is "The Body of Christ" said? Why not…
This year, let Christ meet you in Scripture
There is a stereotype that we need to change: Catholics don’t read the Bible. Anyone who has grown up Catholic can attest that this is false — to a degree. While the Mass is rich with Scripture, and the Liturgy of the Hours extends this prayer and meditation of the word of God, how many Catholics actually devote themselves to the Scriptures?
Last fall, Pope Francis announced that he was establishing the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God. At the time, I didn’t think too deeply on the announcement, but as we approach this new day in the Church, we should take a closer look at it’s invitation.
St. Jerome — on whose feast day Pope Francis announced the new Sunday of the Word of God — is known for saying, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” When you let those words sink into your soul, they give a profound challenge: Do I truly know Christ, or have I become accustomed to being acquainted with him?
We can’t look at Scripture as just any other book, for in the words of the Bible, we meet the Word himself — Jesus. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church profoundly states that “for this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body” (No. 103). We cannot call ourselves Christians if we do not devote ourselves to Christ’s body and his word.
So, as we dive deeper into the fresh new year, and as we celebrate this Sunday of the Word of God, I want to offer a challenge — one I also need to take seriously. This year, make an effort to meet Christ in Scripture.
This will look different for many people. Maybe it means picking up the Bible and reading it cover to cover — a chapter or passage each day. Maybe it means spending time with one book of the Bible for weeks or months. If you don’t know where to start, many recommend the Gospels, which reveal Christ himself, and the psalms, which are the same prayers Jesus would have prayed. If you need accountability, join or create a Bible study with friends. Or if you need more structure and resources, find a Sunday devotional or listen to commentaries on the Scripture through programs such as Formed.org (which many parishes have access to). Above all else, go at your own pace, but diligently make time for Scripture every day — to silently reflect and be open to the voice of God.
One traditional practice is lectio divina (divine reading), which has four main steps: read the passage, meditate on words that stick out to you, pray about these words in a conversation with God, and allow God to transform you through his presence and what he has placed on your heart during this time of prayer. So, here is a bit of lectio divina to get you started.
One passage of Scripture that has resonated deeply with me over the last year is the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. There is so much in this story about Christ’s desire to meet us in our suffering, to know us as we are, to let us know him as he is. But my favorite line is the first in this passage, which simply states, “He had to pass through Samaria” (Jn 4:4). What is striking about this line is the context. As the footnote explains, when it says Jesus had to pass through Samaria, it was “a theological necessity; geographically, Jews often bypassed Samaria by taking a route across the Jordan.”
Jesus did not pass through the region simply because of the route. He passed through the region because he needed to meet the Samaritan woman — he needed her to know him.
That is how Jesus approaches each of us in Scripture — he wants us to know him, to understand that he is coming for each of us as individuals.
So this year, get to know Christ in Scripture. Let him reveal himself to you as a real person, the one who knows your soul more intimately than you know yourself. Just as Christ is waiting for us to visit him in the Eucharist, he is waiting for us to know him through the word.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor.