Recently I was listening to the sports report at the end of the BBC News and they were giving a round up of the action over the weekend. “And finally motor racing” he said, although not a great fan, I was interested to hear if Lewis Hamilton had managed to beat his rivals and get back into contention for the world championship. Hamilton won and had improved his standing in the championship table, said the reporter and that was it.
The following day I read a report on the BBC website that painted quite a different picture. Rather than who came where, it was a race of unusual circumstances. Apparently Hamilton had suffered a puncture on the last lap, and somewhat miraculously had managed to complete the race, still in first place, on only three tyres. And this was without the drama of a couple of crashes, and a number of other punctures. I had to say that I felt a bit cheated by the first report.
Sometimes when I just read a small excerpt of scripture I am reminded of the race report and how much I would have missed if I’d just settled with who came first. When I was in formation to become a deacon, in one of our sessions about preaching we were asked – “What would you do if you had prepared a homily about a specific reading, and a different one was read out just before you were to preach?”
As it turned out, that question was quite prophetic, because that happened to me on one occasion. Fortunately I was able to go ahead with my homily as it was generic to the theme of that week and I could say that “the readings of yesterday also reminded us…”
Just as with the sports report, should we just settle for what is put in front of us? How many of us take the Sunday readings away and have a look at them again, but more than that, how many of us are prepared to read around the piece placed in front of us? We are familiar with the scriptures, we have grown up with them, we hear them week after week, we can repeat the main stories, but do we consider them to be an inspiration to us?
The bible isn’t the smallest of printed works, but it does play quite a big part in my reading habits, however I wonder what percentage of the books of the bible I’ve actually read? How many of us have spent a bit of time exploring what might be considered the lesser know parts of scripture? We will all have our own personal favourite quotes from scripture, many of them will be well known. But let us take for example the parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32), to help put it into context it is useful and enlightening to read the verses of chapter 15 either side of 11-32. Do you know what they say?
St Paul tells us that the guidance and influence of scripture is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work. We often hear the term, being nourished by the Eucharist, but that is only part of the way in which we are fed at the Mass. The Word of God is also part of our nourishment, it feeds us, it builds us and leads us, and we find in the Word of God, the blueprint for our lives. However, as much as we want it to be handed to us, we also have to make a bit of effort to get the bigger picture. Just as I wanted to know more about the Formula One, I had to search out the information. If I want to know how to live my life in Christ, do I wait for that life to come to me, or am I willing to do that bit more to find out more?
It is also a fact that access to scripture has now become much easier. Whilst I’m in agreement with many who say you can’t beat having the book in your hand, I have to admit that electronic access on my phone or tablet means that scripture is far more portable and available. If I’m not a keen or avid reader, then there is the opportunity to download the Bible as an audiobook. It is also, I’m told, available in almost any language that you care to think of.
The preaching question posed to me, upon reflection was a challenge, did or do I know enough about the Word of God to be able to do it justice, when I’m asked to, not in the way I plan, but in the way it is given to me?
Let our reflection this week be to ask ourselves how much of a part we let scripture play in our lives? And how much more it could be!
Deacon Ian Black