Anyone who knew Father Rick Thomas knew that he read the Bible — a LOT. When I would go over to his house to see him or work with him, more times than not he would be sitting at his desk reading Scripture. Every homily he preached, any talk he gave, was centered around the Word of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church stresses the importance of Scripture:
103 …the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body.
104 In Sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, “but as what it really is, the word of God”. “In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them.”
The Word of God is medicine. It holds the remedy to many of our problems. When people were lined up to see Father Thomas in his confessional, they knew they should have a Bible in their hands. Why? Because Father Rick knew the power of the Word of God and he often assigned it as “homework”.
There are two different words in Greek that are used to refer to the Word of God: one is logos which refers to the whole of Scripture. Another is rhema, which refers to God’s personal word to us through the Scriptures. It is when something from the passage jumps out at us, a line or phrase that the Holy Spirit quickens to us. It is that specific word from God that we need for that particular time in our life.
Recently I was counseling someone who was exhausted and worn out from the trials and problems in her life. She felt dried up and empty and wondered if God had abandoned her. I gave her a Scripture in Lamentations to read out loud every day for a minute or two. “Repeat it a few times, and just let the Word of God do its job,” I told her. And she agreed to do that.
This is what I gave her to read:
“The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent. They are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.” Lam. 3:22-23
When I next saw her, she looked bright and happy. “How are you doing? Are things better?” I asked. “Well, nothing in my external situation has really changed,” she said, “but I feel so much better. Every morning I repeat the Scripture you gave me and I feel new hope. Things don’t look so bleak anymore, and I know God is working to resolve things for me.”
This passage was the rhema she needed, the specific word that God wanted to speak into her life, and it made a big difference. She had been completely exhausted but now she realized that God has a new store of graces and mercies and favors each day for her to draw upon. It gave her hope and strength to face her trials.
Where to start?
So where do you start? How do you get into reading the Bible? It can feel so big and you may feel lost.
I suggest you start with the Sunday liturgy. Find out what Scriptures the Church is having us read this coming Sunday. Read them slowly and prayerfully and see if any lines speak to you. If anything grabs your attention, write it out and then read it out loud to yourself this coming week.
The Word of God is living and active, and it can work marvels in our lives. Give it a try.