Last Updated: Thursday - 09/30/2010
October 4, 2010
Savour the sweet taste of Scripture - Prather
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT - The word of God doesn't just sit there on the page but it's something that we are supposed to take in and savour, just like honey in our mouth, says a local theologian.
"Like honey, the word of God is sweet and it explodes in our mouth with sweetness. And just like anything that we take in, it becomes a part of us and it's something that's supposed to change us," theologian Sandy Prather said during a workshop at Scripturefest Sept. 25.
"We are supposed to be transformed by taking it in."
The problem is that Catholics by-and-large are still not convinced they should read the Bible. "This is our 50th year after Vatican II and we still haven't got it, really," lamented Prather, the director of the Star of the North Retreat Centre.
"That's despite the fact that St. Jerome (an early Church scholar) says literally that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. I mean, how clear that is. One of the primary places where we experience and encounter God and Christ is in the living word - the Scriptures that have been given to our Church."
Prather, who presented one of 10 breakout sessions at Scripturefest, briefly shared part of her personal journey of faith to illustrate the transformative power of Scripture.
"I left the Church for a long time. I was young and foolish. I came back to the Church and didn't know how to get into the Church. I didn't know how to connect."
She was hungry, she was thirsty and she was seeking - the classic thing. The single most important thing she did was to take a course in Bible studies. That started her on a path.
"I was blown away. I was shocked. I was challenged and inspired, I was moved," she said.
"When you encounter God in those Scriptures and the Spirit moves in you, it is life-changing. It's transformative. The Scriptures are the invitation to encounter God in that living word. I think it's one of the single most important things we can do because Scripture just breaks open for you."
Through the Bible-study course, Prather found that God had come alive for her in ways she didn't know were possible and that the stories of Scripture were the stories of her life. "I was the prodigal daughter. Later on, I was the elder daughter judging everybody else."
She said Scripture is not a catechism, it's not a list of dogmas, it's not a list of teachings and it's not a list of rules about how we are to behave.
"It's a collection of the stories of our faith. We have stories of God acting in people's lives, amazing conceptions, and miraculous births, deliverances from slavery and movements from death to life. It's our salvation history. They are our stories as a family of faith, how God enters into our culture."
Jesus is the same thing. "In Scripture we have stories about Jesus who is a storyteller. He wants to tell us what the kingdom of God is like.
"(These) stories enter into our lives and so it's not so much information but transformation," stressed Prather. "We are meant to hear these stories over and over and over again. That's why in every liturgy and in every one of the sacraments, the word of God is one of the essential elements."
Prather said we find ourselves in the stories of the Scriptures. "So we are all sometimes Abraham and Sarah because we are looking for, we are hungering and longing for new life and we laugh about some of God's outrageous promises and we are amazed when they come true," she said.
"Other times we are Moses standing on holy ground and we are being asked to do something that we don't think we are able to do. And sometimes we are the Israelites and we are wandering in the desert and we are lost. We worship false gods, we even cry out for mercy, we dance like Miriam and we weep like Rachel.
"We are invited to walk on water, we anoint each other's feet, we drink living water and we take up our cross. The stories of Scripture are our stories."
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