REFLECTION : Bible study PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 14:02

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

This is supposed to be the most popular book. But now I wonder if the people in the street, the ordinary Juan, know it more than just that it simply exists or that it is supposed to be an important book. Nothing more than that.

I have my doubts. I tend to believe the Bible is a victim of the taken-for-granted syndrome. It would seem that the Bible joins the category of water and air that are so common yet so vital that people hardly give any attention to them.

The big difference is that we can afford to take water and air for granted as long as they are there, which normally is not a problem. But the Bible is a different story. We need to know it intimately, otherwise we will get lost in life. We have to exert deliberate effort.

There’s an urgent need to resurrect the sense of importance of the Bible among the people. There’s no doubt the holy book is our ultimate textbook for life. It gives us the roadmap in our earthly journey toward our final heavenly destination.

It contains the greatest story of the universe, the salvation of man who is God’s masterpiece in the whole of creation. That’s because man is God’s image and likeness, and made a child of his through his grace.

That means God is embarking a very complicated project to make man to be like him. It’s a divine project that depends also on our correspondence that has to be done according to our nature and dignity. That is, we ought to want to be God’s children knowingly, freely and lovingly, without being forced or tricked.

Besides the Bible contains lessons that are always relevant to us. Being an inspired book, the stories there are not merely historical or literary. It always breathes fresh lessons to learn, because in spite of its human condition, it is actually God’s word whose worth is eternal, ever new, without lapsing into irrelevance.

As some saints would have it, the Bible is both old and new. But it is also a closed and open book, a dead and living book. The book is not actually just made up of words. The book presents God. It presents Christ  “in vivo.”

Reading it is actually meeting God, listening to Christ, getting involved in the stories contained there, for these stories are a living pattern of our life in all its variations of situations and predicaments.

Obviously, we have to read and understand it well, that is, with faith and love, otherwise, we will miss the most important purpose of the Bible. The book is not simply to be read to acquire knowledge. It is meant to transform us radically, to unite us to God’s plan for our salvation, to identify us with no less than Christ.

It’s a closed and dead book in the sense that it tells the whole divine plan for our salvation. There’s nothing to be added there. But also open and alive in the sense that it needs to be applied to our life individually and collectively, with all the possibilities our human freedom can take in the whole duration of time. In other words, it’s a finished and concluded book and at the same time still ongoing.

This is how we have to understand the Bible. Unfortunately, such understanding is practically absent in most people, including those who may be considered quite church-oriented and all that. And if present, it’s an understanding that is gravely distorted, unable to translate itself into action.

In the school where I work, the subject is given to the students at a certain level. It’s a real challenge, because though it’s clear the students are trying to follow the classes, I could still notice that they are still far from what I consider the ideal.

Obviously, things have to be done in stages. At the moment, the immediate goal is to familiarize the students with the flow of events in the Bible, but little by little leading them to see the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of these events.

I just wonder how other people manage to get a functioning sense of the Bible if there hardly was any class given to them. And to those who already have some background, whether a continuing Bible study is done, because, frankly speaking, the Bible has an endless spiral of meanings that we need to appreciate.

Even those who study theology, priests included, I wonder if we realize that the Bible is the soul of such study and duty of preaching.