THE BIBLE - February 17, 1946
Today, throughout the United States, the Archbishops and Bishops have asked that a sermon of instruction be given on the Holy Bible.
The Holy Bible is the Book of Books. Strictly speaking, it is not one book but a collection of books - there being forty-six books in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. Hence, the Greek words La Biblia mean The Books.
Most of the truths that the Church teaches are found in the Bible. I say "most of the truths" because the Bible is not the sole rule of faith, as many non-Catholics believe. The Church existed several years before the New Testament was completed. In fact, eleven years had passed after Our Lord's death before St. Matthew wrote the first Gospel, which was the first book written in the New Testament. The Church had celebrated her Diamond Jubilee before the last book was written.
The Church has always taught that besides God's written word there are many truths to be found in Tradition. These truths were taught and handed down by word of mouth. For example, there is no sure authority for keeping Sunday, the first day of the week, holy, instead of Saturday, except Tradition. When our Protestant friends keep Sunday instead of Saturday they are keeping this tradition. There is no proof for keeping the Feast Day of Our Lady's Assumption into Heaven except Tradition.
However, most of what we believe is to be found in the Bible, and we should read it and have the greatest reverence for it.
To be a genuine Christian, it is not enough to make an outward profession of faith or to observe the letter of the Laws of the Church and of God. It requires a deep love and knowledge of Jesus Christ and the daily practice of the ideal of life, which He taught by word and example. It requires being saturated through and through with His spirit of love for God and our fellow man. Also, His detachment from perishable things of time, His Unselfishness, His union with the will of God, His prayerfulness, His patience, gentleness, kindliness and humility.
To acquire this Christlike character is to realize the purpose of our destiny, to achieve the greatest possible degree of peace here during our earthly sojourn, which will be a foretaste of the joys of Heaven.
He or she who has acquired the spirit of Christ has a ready and practical answer for all the personal problems that arise. He or she meets them with the wisdom of Jesus, which is none other than the infinite wisdom of God Himself. There is no problem, whether it be suffering or bereavement, or calumny, or ingratitude of friends, difficulties, temptations, physical danger, poverty, which can ever confront us - except the problem of personal guilt - which Christ Himself did not meet courageously and overcome.
Now where can we get this knowledge of the Blessed Christ? There is no better source of knowledge of Jesus Christ than the Holy Gospels. In fact, the entire Bible centers around Jesus Christ, but the Gospels are the very heart and soul of the Bible. Therein Christ moves before us, gives us the most sublime examples of unselfishness and love, and speaks His message of eternal wisdom and life to us.
The practice of family reading is a most beautiful and commendable practice. If every evening, as the family gathers for the evening meal, a page of the Gospels is read, it is like having Our Divine Lord as an honored guest at the table to enlighten and delight us with His words of eternal wisdom. We shall have with us at the table to give direction and tone to the conversation Him who is "the way, and the truth and the life".