Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Be careful what you wish for...

I just got an email from an observant-yet-heterodox Catholic friend in DC, wherein she asked (among other things--such as recipes for Thai grilled squid--which beyond the scope of this blog) how I read Scripture.

As I mentioned today in my ramble, as a Catholic, I believe Apostolic (i.e. Sacred) Tradition to be the lens with which I can see Sacred Scripture in proper focus. Having said that, the question which was asked of me (the answer to which I share with you) was not what I manage to find when I read Scripture, but rather what approach I take when I do.The "way" I came to my approach to Scripture was when someone had given my oldest son one of those The Human Body books, with celluloid pages. As you flip these otherwise clear pages, you go from the skin layer of the body, to the muscles, the nervous system, the innards, etc. Each layer holds different information, depending what you need to study. So it is with me when I read Scripture, except the pages don't get laminated to each other and therefore don't require a letter opener to see what's going on.The Good Samaritan is a great case-in-point. I have used it to:

1- Argue (successfully, he said humbly) against a Catholic-but-Socialist about the morality of private property (which, naturally, we should put to God's service although we have the free will to do otherwise)
2- Discuss the virtue of having a mindset closer to the spirit of God's wants for us, and less with mindless adherence to regulations (which just leads us to look for loopholes to try to circumvent God's will).
3- Assert that our moral obligations to our fellow man are individual obligations that apply to each of us, i.e., our obligation is to use our God-given time/talent/treasure to help our neighbor, not to use our God-given time/talent/treasure to make our other neighbor help the first one, because it's icky or inconvenient.

All that from one little hunk o' Scripture. Neat, huh? Christ told us "Seek and ye shall find" and I am becoming ever more certain this applies, more than anything, to Scripture. If you (not YOU-you) read Scripture just to read it, you will not derive as much benefit as if you read Scripture to see what insight God puts into your head about one of the series of thoughts percolating freely through your mind.* But you have to formulate a question. God loves us, but He's not going to do our homework for us, just like I don't do my son's for him, no matter how slick he thinks he's being when he asks.

*In my case said message is not infrequently placed in my head with the aid of a Divine Louisville Slugger. Artistic representations usually depict St. Michael the Archangel as the one with the Heavenly Bat, but I expect God the Father fields that task Himself.