Tomorrow is Christmas, the day we celebrate the gift of God’s Son into the world for our redemption. But unless God had first given the world the gift of the Scriptures, we would never be able to know of His Son. I wrote this essay some time ago. I thought it appropriate to repost it again, especially for this day.
In his classic “Confessions” – the conversion story of one of Christendom’s greatest Saints – Augustine centers his attention on the one incident that set his course from a life running from God to one running toward Him.
As he stood in a garden struggling with the inner call of God, Augustine heard the Holy Spirit as clearly as one hears a child call: “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.”
He walked back to the place where he’d been reading his Bible, picked it up and read the first text that caught his eye. It was from the thirteenth chapter of Romans: Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
Those words captured his heart and his conversion occurred on the spot. How much poorer the Church would be today if the man we call St. Augustine had not obeyed the Holy Spirit and read the Scriptures?
What was absolutely vital to St. Augustine’s conversion is no less vital for anyone’s fundamental and ongoing conversion today. Thus it is no wonder the Holy Spirit continues to call His disciples – you and me – to do as St. Augustine did: Pick it up and read it.
It’s been well said, “The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible
Speaking to Catholics through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit declares: "Access to Sacred Scripture ought to be open wide to the Christian faithful (paragraph 131). And the Holy Spirit forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ" (paragraph 133).
"Study of the sacred texts," God the Holy Spirit again tells us, "should be the very soul of sacred theology, through which our souls are healthily nourished . . . through the Word of Scripture" (paragraph 132).
To be a faithful Catholic is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit who, speaking through the Church, tells us over and over pick it up and read the Scriptures. And so, wouldn’t this Advent-Christmas season be a perfect time to devote ourselves to reading the Holy Scriptures every day? I’ve followed this Bible reading method for more than 40 years:
If you read two chapters of the Old Testament each day (it takes about 15 minutes or so), and two chapters of the New Testament each day (another 15 minutes or so), you will read the Old Testament once each year and the New Testament three times each year (thus: 2+2=1+3).
In five years, you will read the OT five times and the NT 15 times. In ten years, well, you can do the math.
Jesus is God’s gift to humanity for the cleansing of our sins. The Scriptures are God’s gift to humanity to lead us to Christ, and then for our maturation in faith.