Sunday, 26 January 2020

The Bible as Guide: Word of God Sunday, 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Mt 4:12-23; Isa 8:23-9:3
Over Christmas, I did a lot of driving.
As usual, I used ‘Google Maps’ on my phone to guide me.
When I left my parents, Google Maps immediately told me there was an accident on the M5 near Gloucester with a 45-minute traffic delay due to congestion.
Then, after about a half-hour, it told me that the traffic had cleared and my predicted arrival time was now reduced
When I got to Gloucester, however, I discovered that the M5 was not delayed -it was closed!
Google Maps had detected the lack of traffic on the motorway, but hadn’t realised the motorway was only clear because it was closed! It had wrongly concluded that all was well!
And Google Maps offered me no alternative route.
Google Maps failed me.
Fortunately, however, a have another app, Waze which took me on backroads and got me there.

The point is this:
What do we rely on to get to our destination?
Do we rely on the right thing? And how reliable is it?

The most important destination we should be seeking is eternal life.
Death is the roadblock that lies in our way.
But there is ‘an app for that’: the Bible.

The risk, if we don’t know the Bible,
and if we don’t know the teaching of the Church that interprets and explains the Bible,
The risk is this:
We end up following our own imaginary God
with our own imaginary rules,
And it all SEEMS clear, until we get to that ‘roadblock’ and find the way ahead closed.

Our first reading and gospel speak to us today of the people who USED to walk in darkness, but then, saw a great light (Mt 4:12-23; Isa 8:23-9:3).
That light was God revelation:
His revelation manifested IN and AS His Son -the one who declared Himself to be “the light of the world”(Jn 8:12),
His revelation entrusted by Christ to His Church -to be “the pillar of truth” (1 Tim 3:15) to explain His sacred Word down the ages,
The Bible says that the Word of God is “a light to my path”(Ps 118:105)”
-even before cars, and before sat navs, people got lost, people needed “a light for their paths.
The Bible, God’s holy Word, is the light He has given us.

His holy Word guides us in many ways.
It teaches us about life, how to live:
It shows us EXAMPLES of holy living:
The faith and trust of Abraham (Gen 15:5; Rom 4:3)
The faithfulness and friendship of David and Jonathan (1 Sam 18:1-5),
The patience of Job (Job 1:22; James 5:11),
And much more.

To put other people before ourselves (Phil 2:4),
To not be proud and haughty and full of ourselves (Prov 16:18),
To not look at others lustfully (Mt 5:28),
and not to live by the pleasures of the belly (Phil 3:19).

Pivotally, it tells us about GOD Himself.
It tells us of His faithfulness and generosity to the people His chose and called,
It tells us of His desire to expand that Chosen People to even include the gentile nations like us,
It tells us of His self-sacrificial love that led Him to the cross,
It tells us how He works to the good in all things (Rom 8:28), even through His cross, even though our crosses.

And, maybe most basically, it tells us of the destination: Heaven.
We all know problems in this world,
The Bible tells us of place that makes all this pales in comparison
A place where every tear will be wiped away (Rev 21:4).

To get there, we need to follow the right ‘app’,
The app that is infallible,
His holy word: written in the Bible, explained and taught by His church.

Pope Francis has established today as ‘Word of God’ Sunday, to focus on the Bible.
Our English and Welsh Bishops have established this whole year as a 'Year of the Word'.
In the newsletter I have made three simple suggestion to you for this day and this ‘Year of God’:
(1) Resolve, now, to do a daily reading plan in Lent -we’ll give you leaflets for that when Lent comes;
(2) Plan, now, to attend the Bible School weekend we’ll run in March -the dates are in the newsletter;
(3) Decide, today, which of the 3 study days on the Bible you’ll attend this year.

Google Maps failed me. It’s not inerrant.
The Bible is about a much more important destination.
and it offers a much surer way.

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