The Regional Biblical Commission's Message for Bible Sunday for 2006, to be celebrated on Jul 9.
AMIDST A WORLD that is burdened with distraction and self-preoccupation, many men and women find themselves continuously caught in a whirlwind of confusion as to their meaning and role in existence.
|A young lady reflects on the unchanging Word of God. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away". (Matthew 24:35)|
There are some who are also uncertain as to the stand of their own religious leaders, as popular current trends send many people of today spiralling towards a dominantly subjective outlook! Long-standing cherished beliefs and traditions are being questioned and attacked by a pervasiveness of scepticism.
Sexual immorality is constantly evolving for the worse, church and missionary efforts are being undermined, religious institutions seem to be targets or secularism. There also exist many "reinterpretations" of scriptural teachings about man's sinfulness, Jesus' divinity and his actual resurrection from the dead. On top of that, there is a proliferation of the rejection of God and Christ, and a call for a return to witchcraft and the worship of pagan gods and goddesses, which is often touted as a "new-spirituality".
How does the Word of God present itself in all these? What does the church offer us in the wake of a world that seems to offer no stability?
The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings..." (Hebrews 13:8-9a)
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Here, we are reminded that the Word of God provides real and concrete direction for those genuinely seeking the truth. The Word of God, as taught by Christ and entrusted to the church, is unchanging and constant. To be relevant and alive, the teaching of Jesus in the Scriptures requires application to every age and culture.
Application must obviously take into serious account the situation of the day. Unfortunately, however, the application at times creates a problem when it yields to arbitrary or distorted interpretation.
The practice of faith is affected by such interpretation. Fidelity to its real sense in the light of Sacred Tradition is a requirement in the process of the application of a particular text of Scripture. The sense of the text does not change; its application does.
The overall message of the Scriptures - that is, the scheme of salvation planned by God and implemented by Jesus Christ - does not change. "We walk by faith, and not by sight", St. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:7.
Nevertheless, faith, as contained in the Word of God, still needs to be properly guided, namely by those whom the Lord has entrusted the sacred task of leadership and guidance: the church.
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The Bible is indeed the treasury of the Church's teachings and a major source of inspiration and comfort for all who believe. Recognizing this, on Nov 18, 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued a Dogmatic Constitution entitled "Dei Verbum", through which the church expressed its hope that "by hearing the message of salvation, the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love" ("Dei Verbum" 1). In so doing, the church, stamped with the promise of the Lord's everlasting guidance, through the Word and sacred Tradition, provides a means for men and women of good will to anchor themselves to solid, immovable truths in matters of morals, faith and values - truths that give meaning and reason to earthly existence.
While a constantly changing world seeks to blur the lines between right and wrong, the church unshakeably stands by truths contained in the Word. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)
Salvation is, as it always has been, to be found in Jesus Christ, the Lord and Saviour. Sin, as rampant and pervasive as it remains, offers no real substance.
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Greater than sin, nonetheless, is love - chiefly, the love of God. "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love." (John 15:9)
This message has been reiterated by Pope Benedict XVI to a world that needs to hear it being proclaimed again. Only the love of God can overcome sin and meaninglessness.
Since Christ is unchanging and his law still binding, it is our responsibility to uphold and live out what he has commanded.
In our lives, we need to witness to the death and resurrection of Christ. We need to show in our own lives, we need to witness to the death and resurrection of Christ. We need to show in our own lives the reality that the message of Christ still rings true today, as it did in the years before us. The world may change, but the Word remains changeless. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." (Matthew 24:35). Truly, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.