In today’s (Thursday, 26th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1 – Oct. 5, 2017) first reading from the Book of Nehemiah we hear how Ezra read to the people from the book of the law of Moses from daybreak to midday. A great crowd had gathered there.
What it refers to as the “book of the law of Moses” may be the Book of Deuteronomy but it could be more from the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures that, as Christians today, we call the Old Testament. We see them hold it in high regard. They both rose in praise to the word and prostrated themselves in response to what it told them. Even the fact that they listened from daybreak to midday shows a great reverence for the Word of God.
Where is reverence for the scriptures today?
Many people today do not read the Word of God. As Catholics, we don’t have a good reputation for knowing the Bible yet we have multiple readings from it at every Mass and several of our prayers at Mass are composed of quotes from the Bible.
Some people today see the Bible as a “guide” book on good behavior at best. It is not simply a guide book. It is God’s Word. They will reject what they don’t agree with as outdated. Sometimes, they use modern psychology as their justification. Psychology can help explain human behavior but it does not make it right or wrong. God determines what is right and good.
Do we still do everything in the Bible as Christians today? No, for instance there are the animal sacrifices prescribed in the Book of Leviticus. However, we don’t omit these sacrifices today by human decision. No, those sacrifices have been replaced by the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross (see chapter 10 of the Letter to the Hebrews). Likewise, the Old Testament forbid certain foods like pork which we eat today because Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19).
We may not understand every word of the Bible but we can revere it as the Word of God.