Today Catholic Christians Celebrate the Third Sunday of Easter.
In the Gospel selection from St. Luke, we read about Jesus engaging in Bible studies with two of his disciples.
The time was after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and Jesus appears to two of his disciples. After showing them his wounds and having a snack of baked fish, Jesus opened their eyes to the Bible. Remember, though, that the early Catholic Christians had not yet written the New Testament of the Bible, so what Jesus was teaching them was the Old Testament and how it referred to him.
Specifically, we read:
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24: 44-48).
Today’s homily focuses on the two ways that people may approach the Bible. Both ways are fine, but each way has a profoundly different purpose. But first, let’s look at a story I wrote called, “All About the Car.”
There was once a young woman named Rita who fell in love the Honda Accord the moment she saw it. In fact, she became obsessed with what she saw so much, that she went out and bought one. The color was called “champagne frost.”
After taking the car home and putting it safely in her garage, Rita decided that she was going to become the ultimate expert on this car. So, realizing that Honda was a Japanese company, and that the original manual for the car was in Japanese, Rita decided to go to Japan to learn the language.
Fortunately, she won a scholarship to the University of Tokyo where she majored in Japanese Studies. After four years, she received a bachelor’s degree in that field.
During her final year of studies in Tokyo, however, Rita learned that the Honda Accord was actually made in Marysville, Ohio. So, Rita decided to get her master’s degree in Ohio History from Ohio State University.
In Ohio, Rita studied all about Ohio. She learned why it is called the “Mother of Presidents” and all about the great steel, rubber, and airline industries it produced. She learned about the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron and why Cleveland is known as the “Home of Rock and Roll.” And she learned about famous figures of Ohio such as Johnny Appleseed and the Wright Brothers. As a Catholic Christian, Rita especially loved studying about Catholic saintly people such as Sr. Dorothy Stang, martyr of Brazil, and Jean Donovan and Sr. Dorothy Kazel, martyrs of El Salvador.
After receiving her master’s degree in Ohio History, Rita felt she was ready to spread her knowledge about the Honda Accord with the world. Soon, she found herself speaking at community colleges, technical schools, Honda conventions, and civic groups. So, when she was asked to speak at a local high school, she thought it would be a very easy experience.
Unfortunately, however, she was stumped at the very first question that a student asked: “Rita, how does your Honda drive?”
“Drive?” she asked. “Well, I don’t know. I’ve never driven it. I’ve only studied it.”
This story seems far-fetched, and of course it is – at least at first glance. But don’t many people approach the Bible in a similar way to how Rita approached her car? They study it but never put it into action. That is sad, for we are supposed to take the principles of the Bible, put them in our minds and hearts, and then put them into action.
Now we can approach the Bible as a window or as a mirror. Both approaches are valid, but they have radically different purposes.
When we approach the Bible as a window, we engage in Bible Studies. The purpose of Bible Studies is to answer the question, “What did the original authors of the Bible mean by what they wrote?” The experts in Bible Studies are called exegetes, scholars who devote their academic lives to studying the Bible.
When we approach the Bible as a mirror, we engage in Faith Sharing. The purpose of Faith Sharing is to answer the question, “How does the Bible speak to me? What do I get out of it? How can I apply it in my life?” In this approach, the reader is the expert. And because of that, it is much easier than Bible Studies.
As we continue our life journey this week, it would be a good idea to reflect on how we approach the Bible. How do we treasure it and live it in everyday life?
And that is the good news I have for you on this Third Sunday of Easter, 2018.
Story source: Fr. Robert J. Kus, “All About the Car,” 2018.