In my last blog I mentioned an article about Catholics reading the bible. They don’t read it much, in fact, and those who do may read it as biblical fundamentalists do. The author quoted from a 1998 report from the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the pope’s advisors in biblical matters, which said that “Fundamentalism actually invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide.”
It can also lead to political damage as well according to an article in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times today “Why the AntiChrist Matters in Politics” by Matthew Avery Sutton.
Especially in troubled times, some may see political consequences in the bible and its prophecies that really aren’t there.
“Biblical criticism, the return of Jews to the Holy Land, evolutionary science and World War I convinced them that the second coming of Jesus was imminent. Basing their predictions on biblical prophecy, they identified signs, drawn especially from the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, that would foreshadow the arrival of the last days: the growth of strong central governments and the consolidation of independent nations into one superstate led by a seemingly benevolent leader promising world peace.
This leader would ultimately prove to be the Antichrist, who, after the so-called rapture of true saints to heaven, would lead humanity through a great tribulation culminating in the second coming and Armageddon. Conservative preachers, evangelists and media personalities of the 20th century, like Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, Billy Graham and Jerry Falwell, shared these beliefs.”
Last week was catechetical Sunday, marking the beginning of our religious education program at St.Mary’s. We blessed our catechists who are going to be involved in the religious education of our young people.
But religious education involves more than young people. All of us are called to grow in our faith and live what we believe. Unfortunately, as adults we may see faith as something you learn as a child in school or in a religious education program and you never have to learn about it again.
The Catholic writer Frank Sheed said the problem with adult Catholics is that they don’t keep engaged in the faith they learned as children. He used the example of our eyes. We have two eyes. Let’s say one of them is the eye of faith; the other is the eye of experience.
As children, with a religious education, we may see the world with two eyes; but as adults losing our engagement with faith we gradually come to see the world only with the eye of experience. We lose the focus that faith gives, another dimension. We won’t see right. Faith is what helps us to see.
“You are all learners,” Jesus said to his disciples in the gospel. It’s not just children who learn, all of us learn. We are lifelong learners. Lifelong believers, engaged believers, struggling believers, even till the end.
One of the areas we have to learn about today in the Catholic Church is the Bible. It’s there every Sunday and every day of the week. It’s our new catechism and prayerbook, one of the gifts our church gives us. We need to learn about it and pray from it as much as we can.