It’s in the Book

My Bible is looking very battered, its binding held together with wide pieces of clear sticky tape. It’s a Jerusalem Bible, an English translation of a French translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, printed in 1966. It’s big, it’s heavy, the pages are wafer thin, unmarked by pencil or highlighter, unlike just about every other book I own.

I can’t claim to have read every word of it – there are whole chapters that remain unread, especially in the Old Testament. My most frequently pondered chapters are from the New Testament, the Jesus story as it is told from the perspective of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Lately however, my Bible has sat, unopened for weeks at a time.

Maybe familiarity has dulled my reading of the Gospels. Maybe I’ve stopped seeing Jesus from the perspective of a first century Christian, when the choice to follow his teachings was an adult thing, a deliberate choice that took courage, determination and a strong will to join what was essentially a fringe movement – exciting but demanding. Maybe I’ve stopped seeing Jesus from my place in the twenty first century.

A couple of weeks ago Kevin Donnelly, writing  in the Australian, said this; “It’s a hard time to be a Christian, especially a Catholic”. I agree. It takes courage to go against the tide of unquestioned beliefs, family customs, public opinion and established religious tradition in order to speak about anything, but especially religious issues. Mentioning Jesus can be embarrassing. Maybe it’s time for me to return to the Gospels, to see life, as it’s happening right now, through the eyes of Jesus.  

The Jesus story is the thread that holds Christian communities together. It’s what makes Christianity a living and still evolving religion. Aside from a token nod to Jesus’ birth and death each Christmas and Easter however, you will hear almost nothing about Jesus unless you are a regular church goer. Christian churches introduce us to a Jesus we can imitate in twenty first century ways, someone who sets the bar for what it means to be fully human. External rituals and compliance with rules rarely do that.

 Christianity today does the ‘big stuff’’ really well. Regardless of race, culture or gender, Christianity gives people a practical way to integrate their inner spirituality with the day to day The sick, the needy, the homeless, families displaced by war, the disabled and the mentally ill are cared for by any number of organizations and volunteers. Are a whole lot of empty churches for sale because people no longer see any point in remaining faithful to what is essentially cultural Christianity?

 A slow, careful reading of a Gospel passage gives the details a chance to be noticed and Jesus’ voice to be heard, maybe stirring a recognition of something that is currently happening. A word or phrase that catches our interest or imagination.is like a hook the Spirit uses to bring something to our attention. We just need the courage to believe it, to stay with it, to live it.

Judith (judith@judithscully.com.au)

2 Replies to “It’s in the Book”

  1. Hello Judith, Our reading today is- Bless those that curse you, pray for those that hurt you. What a challenge in todays world. Love reading words from the edge. Margaret Harvey

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Hello Judith
    I too have been a faithful reader of your word from the edge.
    It saddens me that your bible has remained unopened and unmarked.
    After more than 5 decades of faithfulness to Jesus expressed thru my Catholicity I have moved to a Pentecostal church. I miss the family of God who I loved and served for decades, I miss the expressed centrality of the cross and reverence for Holy Eucharist, both of which remain central to my faith in Jesus. I regret that my children, not only rejected Catholicism but were so disappointed and ashamed by being aligned with the life and education being Catholic in the 21 century has created that like so many others they threw the baby out with the bath water. And so as whatever years remain for me I will seek the Lord while He is to be found and declare the word of the Lord in the land of the living as I wait for my prodigals to come home to Jesus.
    I speak Jesus

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