Today, we reflect on one of the most precious gifts given to us by God; the treasure of the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God.
My dear friends, we must always thank God for the access that we have to the invaluable record of divine revelation that we find in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament we have the laws, the spiritual guidelines given through Moses to the people of Israel, our ancestors in the faith. We also have the prophecies that foretold the plans and promises of God to bring about the fulfillment of the hopes and longings of his people. The fulfillment of these promises reached its heights in the New Testament with the coming of the Messiah which Israel have been looking forward to for generations.
Until the coming of Jesus, the laws and prophecies were like puzzles, unanswered question and unfulfilled aspirations. Yet to be fulfilled and incomplete as they may have been, the people of Israel hung on to them with faith and trust. In obedience to the passage that we read today from Deuteronomy 4:1-9, they held on with faith and trust. Moses had urged the people to pay attention to the laws and customs that he was teaching them, to stay faithful and teach them diligently to their children; for in doing so, they will receive the fullness of life. In the gospel passage from Matthew 5:17-19, Jesus highlights how powerful and purposeful the Word of God is. God speaks his Words and it is bound to bring about what it says. Jesus says till heaven and earth disappears, not one dot, not one little stoke shall disappear from the law till its purpose is achieved. Jesus the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of the law and the prophets confirmed that he came not to abolish the prescriptions of scripture, but rather to bring them to completion.
Dear brother, dear sisters, we must learn to place the right premium on the Word of God and build our lives around what it says. We must be guided by it and bear credible witness to it, especially in our age and time. Jesus emphasizes the importance of living our lives on the prescriptions of the scriptures when he says, ‘The man who infringes even the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven. But the man who keeps them and teaches them is considered great in the kingdom of heaven. This message of the Lord for us today also places the onus on whoever presumes to teach the Word of God to take care that they do not manipulate the Word of God to fit their selfish purposes or for personal gains, whatever the case may be; power, money or any other personal good. The sanctity of the Word of God must never be violated or abused. Interpretation of the Word of God does not begin and end with any person, but it lies in the Church whom the Lord entrusts the flock.
My dear friends, we must all wake up in new appreciation and a deep love of the Word of God, such that we relate with the Bible, not as an interesting ancient text to be studied and analysed, but as the living Word that is meant to transform our lives and leads us through the minefield of this world as we journey back to him from whom we came.
As Scripture itself states, ‘The Word of God is alive and active, it cuts more firmly than the double-edged sword. May the Word of God lead us unto everlasting life. I bless you today in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Catholic Archbishop of Lagos
See Other Messages from the Bishop »