PARAÑAQUE City, June 6, 2014—“What makes a Catholic Bible different from a Protestant one?”
Redemptorist priest JM Macasaet asked this of his congregation Wednesday, June 4, at the Baclaran Church as a starter to his sermon on why Catholics should read their Bibles more.
Impatient for the crowd’s response, Macasaet quipped, “A Catholic Bible is clean.”
He lamented that very few of the faithful neither have the time nor the willingness to pick up and read their home Bibles.
Mystery of the ‘clean’ Bible
“We, Catholics, love the Bible too much we don’t even want to touch it…With much reverence and care, we place it on our altars only to have none of it again until it gathers dust,” he shared.
If only for their approach to Scriptures, Macasaet pointed out that “there’s much that Catholics can learn from Protestants”, whose well-thumbed King Jameses and NIV’s attest to their zeal for God’s word.
Church emphasizes Bible reading
Catholics often draw flak from other Christians for their alleged “ignorance” of the Bible and “attachment” to Tradition.
But whatever some individual Catholics take’ on Scriptures may be, the Church is clear on the importance of reading them.
According to Vatican II document Dei Verbum (DV) “The Church forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful … to learn ‘the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ’, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. ‘Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ’.”
Scripture plus Tradition
The Church regards as true “rule of faith” the Bible and Tradition as manifested in the Magisterium, to which “were entrusted the oral teachings of Jesus and the apostles, along with the authority to interpret Scripture correctly”.
DV explains, “Hence, there exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit. To the successors of the apostles, sacred Tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit.”
The Vatican document noted, however, that the Church does not draw her “certainty about everything which has been revealed” solely from sacred Scripture.
“Both sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same devotion and reverence,” it added.
In 2 Thess. 2:15, St. Paul instructs Christians to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”.
Macasaet also stressed that just as some of the faithful are enthusiastic about spreading useless gossip, all the more should they be when preaching the Gospels. (Raymond A. Sebastián)