The Meaning of the Bible
“He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” There may be no desire more consistent among Christians than to understand the Holy Scriptures.
How many bible commentaries have been written over time? How many bible studies and classes? How much do we long to hear homilies that will relate the readings to our daily lives and give us some lasting takeaway? Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast has even topped the download charts recently! And here today in the Gospel reading, we hear that the Risen Christ Himself opens the Scriptures to His disciples. What Christian would not leap at the opportunity to learn the meaning of the Word of God from the Word of God Himself!
Yet, what is fascinating, and perhaps a little unexpected in relation to how we read the Bible today, is what truth Christ draws from the Scriptures. The Lord does not come to the Scriptures looking for the same things we do, nor does he offer to His disciples the sort of things that we seek. He does not give them quick practical lessons or morals for their daily lives. He does not give them concrete or practical challenges for the week to come. He does not give them spiritual reflections or interesting tidbits about what life was like for the ancient Hebrew people. Instead, we are told that He shows His disciples how the ancient Word of God was really about Him, about His Passion and Resurrection, all along. Rather than bringing the Scriptures down to the level of His disciples, He brings His disciples up to the level of Scriptural vision.
So how is it that we read the Scriptures? What is it we look for when we listen to the readings at Mass, or think about a passage from the Gospels? Do we simply try to extract what we need for the day, or try to understand what the Lord is telling us in the present moment? These things are certainly not wrong, since the Scriptures can and should absolutely guide each moment of our Christian lives, but perhaps this Easter we can ask for the grace to understand the Bible as Christ taught it, as a portrait of His saving work, of His love for us.