"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ’
Synopsis: The books of Ezra and Nehemiah pick up where 2 Chronicles leaves off with the end of the Babylonian captivity. Originally one book, Ezra-Nehemiah tells the story of Israel’s return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple. Ezra was a priest and responsible for the religious restoration of the people, while Nehemiah was a layman and responsible for rebuilding the community. In this week’s first reading, Ezra leads the people in renewing the covenant by reading from the Torah. The fact that the people wept tells us that it was an incredibly meaningful moment for them. Standing on a wooden platform he “opened the book in the sight of all the people” and began to read. Ezra then explained its meaning to the people “interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.” Ezra’s reading and explanation foreshadows Jesus’ reading from Isaiah in this week’s Gospel. In the second reading, Paul explains that the Church is the body of Christ. The organizational structure of the Church is sacred because “God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.” The Church therefore, at its most basic level is not a human invention, but a divinely constituted society. Finally, the Gospel reading this week describes the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Like Ezra, Jesus “unrolled the scroll” in the sight of all the people and began to read. After reading the word of God, Jesus explained its meaning, saying, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Jesus’ preaching in the synagogue was yet another manifestation of his divinity.
Key verse: “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of tradition, has been entrusted to the living, teaching office of the Church alone” (No. 85).
Life application: The Constitution on Divine Revelation (“Dei Verbum”) “urges all the Christian faithful … to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the ‘excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ’ for ‘ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’” While it may be true that prior to Vatican II Catholics felt discouraged from reading the Bible, that’s not the case today. As Catholics, however, we must read the Bible with the Church, not in isolation. It is the task of the clergy to help us to do that.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
Read Today's Scriptures online
Archives: "Breaking Open the Word"
For an affordable cost, you, too, can publish Breaking Open the Word in your newspaper, bulletin or journal.
For more information, contact Roxanne King, editor of the Denver Catholic Register, at email@example.com or by calling 303-715-3215.