Tag Archives: Savior

Why Read the Old Testament?

Some people complain about the selections from the Old Testament we’re reading at weekday Mass these past few weeks. Too long, they say, they don’t tell us anything. They’d rather hear what Jesus is saying and doing.

Why do we read from the Old Testament? Reading from the Old Testament is a lot like reading from the New York Times or the Daily News, or following David Muir on ABC each evening. You’re not going to hear much about Jesus there either. The media gives us the news of the day as it happens and, especially these days, it’s not encouraging.

Not much encouraging news in our Old Testament reading today from the Book of Numbers either. (Numbers 13-14) Giants are out there blocking the way to the promised land. Israel’s scouts face giants as they reconnoiter the world ahead. There’s no way ahead.

Our media tells us the same: giants are blocking our way– North Korea, the Middle East, storms from climate change, political giants who seem to get in the way of a world of justice and peace. And we don’t have answers what to do.

But the Old Testament tells us more than the media. It’s salvation history. More than the story of the Jews, the Old Testament is the story of the human race and all creation on a journey, from the beginning of time to its end. Human sinfulness, tragedies and delays are there, but the story begins and ends in hope. God is there.

That makes the Old Testament stories so different from the stories the media serves up everyday. God is there from the beginning. That’s the way our selection today from the Book of Numbers begins: “The LORD said to Moses [in the desert of Paran,]‘Send men to reconnoiter the land of Canaan,
which I am giving the children of Israel.’” And God is there as his people experience the consequences of their foolishness and lack of faith.

The columnist David Brooks in the Times yesterday said he has to think less about Donald Trump or he’s going to go crazy. He needs to think more about the deeper shifts taking place in society, he says.

I wonder if thinking about the deeper shifts is enough to stop you from going crazy these days. We need hope from another source. That’s where the Old Testament and the rest of the scriptures comes in. Some prefer calling it the “First Testament.” It testifies that the first thing to keep in mind about time is that God is there, from beginning to the end. God is our Savior.

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Filed under ecumenism, Environment, Inspiration, Motivational, Passionists, poetry, Religion, spirituality

The Visitation

Today is the  feast of the Visitation,  and in the readings Venerable Bede recalls Mary’s prayer in which she says, “My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Like other great teachers of prayer, Bede likes to reflect on the  great prayers found in the scriptures.

“Above all other saints, she alone could truly rejoice in Jesus, her savior, for she knew that he who was the source of eternal salvation would be born in time in her body, in one person both her own son and her Lord.”

He would be born “in time” Bede says. We learn from Mary to believe in the One who “fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in him.” She calls on God, her savior who acts “in time.”

As he comments on the Magnificat, Bede offers a simple explanation for one of the night prayers of the church:  the Salve Regina.

“Hail Holy Queen,

mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope….”

“It’s an excellent and fruitful custom of holy Church to sing Mary’s hymn at the time of evening prayer. By meditating upon the incarnation, our devotion is kindled, and by remembering the example of God’s Mother, we are encouraged to lead a life of virtue, which needs strengthening in the evening. We’re weary after the day’s work and worn out by our distractions. The time for rest is near, and our minds look for contemplation.”

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