Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bible Reading: Psalms 119:97-104

How I love your teaching, Lord!
I study it all day long.
Your command makes me wiser than my foes,
for it is always with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers,
because I ponder your decrees.
I have more insight than my elders,
because I observe your precepts.
I keep my steps from every evil path,
that I may obey your word.
From your edicts I do not turn,
for you have taught them to me.
How sweet to my tongue is your promise,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I gain insight;
therefore I hate all false ways.

This section called "Mem" (for the psalm is divided into sections according to the ancient Hebrew letters of the alphabet) describes the wisdom and joy that are both received by those who love the Lord God's teaching.

The devout of all three Abrahamic faiths demonstrate this love of God's teaching in their own ways. Orthodox Jews show continual tremendous devotion and love of the word of God on a daily basis. The word of God is the treasure of the sanctuary in all synagogues in the form of the Torah scroll, whether reform, conservative or orthodox.

Christians also demonstrate great love for Bible reading. While Catholics tend to read the Bible less than some other Christians, the daily Mass is comprised of three readings from the Bible, as was the Apostolic tradition. Remember, dear Christians, the first followers of Jesus had no "bible" to read and study, as books and writing for the common people simply did not exist. The Catholic Church developed following the actions of Jesus Christ, first priest, and the Apostles so that the Gospel could be preached and the Kingdom of Heaven understood by those who could not read and write, which was virtually everybody. It is an unfair swipe at the Catholic Church to therefore claim that the church "controls" Bible reading by "only" doing so during Mass. Mass is two thousand years old and for one thousand five hundred years of the Christianity there was no printing press, no Bibles for the common people at all. I've explained this in other postings here that the stained glass images in churches and the structure of the liturgy of the Mass was developed to be totally inclusive not "exclusive." The most poor and illiterate peasant could enter the grandest church and belong there, be welcome in God's home, learn the Bible stories and Gospel by looking at the stained glass, and for those who attended Mass daily, listened to, as a result, at least twenty-one readings from the Bible.

Having said that, I believe Catholics must read the Bible more, which is why I emphasize it so much in this blog. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI agrees, and next week he will start the televised reading of the entire Bible as he is the first of the series of readers to each read a section. So on October 5 he will start with the beginning, Genesis.

This brings me to mention my Muslim brothers and sisters who even continue the tradition of memorizing parts of or the entire Qur'an, even by very young children! This is a precious gift, devotion and tradition and I enjoy reading about children who are sponsored to be able to spend time doing what they love, which is learning each word of God in the Qur'an.