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3rd Sunday, Ordinary
I hope that you do read the Bible.  As Christians, we must fall in love with the book of our faith, the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, for our God speaks to us through it.  But is this the only way God speaks to his children?  No! God speaks to us also through nature.  Many do not have the Bible but have the moon and the stars, the mountains and the seas to remind them of the Lord’s goodness.
God also speaks to us through conscience.  Some people are not Christians and some have never touched a Bible but they follow the stirring of their inner voice to do good and to avoid evil.  Conscience comes from God and therefore is used by God to speak to us.
Christians though are very blessed to have above all, the gift of God’s own Word. What happens when we read the Bible? First, when we read this precious book sincerely, prayerfully, reflectively, our hearts are touched by God. In the first reading, Nehemiah (ch 8) recounts how Ezra the priest read the Word of God to the Israelites passionately.  The people listened and cried as they received the Word.
Reading alone or listening to the proclamation at Mass or at a prayer meeting, are our hearts open to God’s Word? Or are we overcome more by our impatience or boredom or by our lack of concentration? Many lives have changed because of serious engagement with God’s Word.  Many people are inspired each day as they receive the loving message of the Lord.
Second, when we read the Bible, we meet Jesus!  The Bible is our holy book, it is God’s Word written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. But still, it is a book and so we do not absolutize it as some people do. The written word must give way to the living Word, Jesus Christ.  In the gospel of Luke (ch 4), Jesus said of the passages he read aloud in the synagogue:  “Today this is fulfilled in your hearing.” He actually meant: I am the very center of the words you heard today.
Some people read the Bible and even memorize it but then they get so proud thinking that they found a precious knowledge others don’t have.  They begin to put down others, challenge others, criticize others they do not understand.  If the Bible leads you to be narrow minded and proud instead of loving and serving like Jesus, it has not served its real purpose in your life?
That is why, in the Catholic Church, we believe that reading the Word of God, we must be accompanied by our leaders and guides.  St. Peter warns us that we must  not put in our personal interpretation but rather take our cue from men guided by the Holy Spirit.  Many have read the Bible, only to formulate teachings contrary to the Body of Christ, the Church.  Through this, they were deceived.
The best practice is constant, silent, prayerful reading of a passage of the Bible each day.  Let it inspire you and bring you to contact with Jesus.  Let it inspire you to take your place as a child in the family of God and the Body of Christ, the Church.