Even one of these six reasons should be enough to change our habits.
One seminary professor of mine insisted as we began to study the Gospels that we sit down and read each Gospel straight through. It was a serious but reasonable request. Her point was that the narrative of the Scriptures would wash over us, allowing us to discover even greater richness in the sequence and pacing of the life of Jesus as reported by the evangelists.
The simple fact is that we Catholics should swim in Scripture. The Bible is absolutely central to our faith. Expressing this, Pope Francis teaches,
The relationship between the Risen Lord, the community of believers and Sacred Scripture is essential to our identity as Christians. Without the Lord who opens our minds to them, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth. Yet the contrary is equally true: without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his Church in this world would remain incomprehensible.
Our traditional prayers like the Rosary use the words of Scripture. Many devotionals offer daily meditations on God’s Word. Further, the readings we hear proclaimed at Mass regularly expose us to so much of the Bible. If you read the readings prescribed for daily Mass, you will hear over 70% of the New Testament in the three-year cycle.
But none of these things captures what it’s like to open up a Gospel and be immersed in it. It’s an exercise I’ve personally benefited from, and even assigned over the years to my own students at Providence College.
Next week we will celebrate as a Church a Sunday dedicated to the Word of God. So what are the benefits of cracking open your Bible? Here’s one short list
Some benefits of reading Sacred Scripture
The Bible is God speaking to us.
Catholics believe that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God. All necessary truths that God intended to communicate for the purpose of our salvation are contained in Sacred Scripture! The Second Vatican Council teaches,
Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. (Dei Verbum, 11)
Since God speaks truly, we can trust and rely on the things included in Scripture. The Scriptures are God’s own revealing of himself. By reading them, we come to know him better.
Sacred Scripture is filled with encouragement.
The Early Christians knew to look to the Scriptures to nourish their hope. The Psalms in the Old Testament speak of God’s powerful love and mercy. The book of Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament showcases the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Stories of our heroes show God’s work in the lives of believers. By reflecting on God’s past fidelity, recorded for our memory in the Scriptures, we can be filled with hope for the future.
Reading Scripture will make us better evangelists.
Reading Sacred Scripture can help our faith mature. Many Catholics stop studying their faith when they leave school. This epidemic leaves our adult believers with a stunted faith. Confronted by difficult questions from non-Catholics, all too often we offer weak or uncertain defenses of our faith. Not every Catholic has to become a seminary professor, but every Catholic can benefit from grappling with serious questions of faith, grounded in the study of the Scriptures.
By reading the Bible, we will keep focused on what matters.
What if we spent as much time with Scripture as we do watching the news or listening to podcasts or scrolling social media? Christian life is fundamentally a fight to keep God at the center of our lives and stay focused on the things that matter. Reading Scripture regularly helps us to face life with God’s perspective at the forefront, able to rule out the kinds of things that vie for our attention, but in the end don’t really matter.
Reading Scripture teaches us to pray.
Many Catholics express a desire for a richer prayer life. However, most Catholics also feel like they don’t know what to say. Well, the Bible offers us words to pray. We can model our prayer on the saints and stories contained in the Scriptures. As such, the Bible is a school of prayer, a training ground which teaches us how to express the things we hold deep in our hearts.
The more we read Scripture, the more clearly we will be able to hear God’s voice.
By reading Scripture we accustom ourselves to hearing God speak. The more more attuned to the logic of salvation we become by knowing God in the Scriptures, the more readily we will hear God speaking to us.