The Odessa Record -

Pastor's Corner; Can you read?


St. Joseph Catholic Church

"Of course," you say. But in all fairness, I didn't ask the whole question. After all, there are only so many words you can fit into the title of an article!

What I really meant to ask was, "Do you know how to read Scripture?" If you're like most people around here, your response is probably still, "Of course!"

Have you ever given a second thought to the way you read the Bible? People read it in different ways and for different reasons.

Some people read Scripture to get information: "Just the facts, please." They're looking for scientific data about how we got here and historical data about the events of the past. They are interested in knowing what Jesus actually did and said.

Some people read Scripture for direction: "Show me the way." They want to know what God has revealed to be the proper way to carry out one's life. They are looking for teaching on morality - what evils must be avoided and what good deeds must be done.

Some people read Scripture to get help: "I need something!" They are looking for a word of encouragement; they seek wisdom that will get them through the challenges they are presently facing. They're seeking a glimmer of hope, a reason to stay in the fight.

Some people read Scripture to predict the future: "What's next?" They want to find embedded in the sacred text hints of what is yet to come. The book of Revelation is a favorite for these readers. They make predictions and wait to see if they come true.

Some people read Scripture for backup: "See? I'm right!" They take verses out of context or interpret them so as to support their own way of believing, rather than humbly seek the intended meaning of the text. They are also inclined to ignore the passages that contradict their own theories.

Obviously, not all ways of reading Scripture are equal, and not every reason for turning to "The Good Book" is a good one. However, that is not at all to say that we ought to limit the rich effects of God's Word by narrowing our perspective on it.

The key to reading Scripture is in remembering that it is the living Word of God. Through it, God speaks to us today, wherever we are and in whatever situation in which we find ourselves.

Sometimes he speaks to instruct and sometimes to guide. Sometimes his Word admonishes and sometimes he encourages. God speaks his Word in different ways and for different reasons. Being a good reader means being a good listener.

If we know "how to read," then we can ultimately go beyond the words written on the page to encounter and grow in our relationship with the Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ the Lord. The expert reader sees Scripture as a privileged place to meet Jesus today and experience his love and truth in a profoundly personal way.


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