Like the people in today’s Gospel, many of us have little patience when it comes to learning more about the Bible. We would like to read, understand, and live God’s word better, but it can seem like a lot. Sometimes too much is going on in our lives, and we have a hard time getting into it. Other times we don’t have the discipline to make the time. Sometimes we don’t agree with what is being said or taught and so we just don’t listen (or we
listen and then quickly forget what we’ve learned and don’t apply it in our lives.) The point is that something so important as God’s Word, the Bible, requires a lifetime.
“Whoever has ears ought to hear,” like Jesus said, and all this takes a great deal of patience and practice.
St. Francis de Sales once commented that “The virtue of patience is the one which most assures of perfection” and “Patience is needed with everyone, but first of all with ourselves.”
There’s a story of a man who prayed earnestly one morning for the grace to overcome his sin of impatience. A little later, he missed a train by half a minute and spent the next hour stomping up and down the station platform in anger. Five minutes before the next train came he suddenly realized that he had been given the answer to his prayer. He had been given an hour to patiently read his Bible, and he had missed the opportunity and wasted the hour.
One good exercise that each of us might take is once-a-week to learn something new about the Bible. This can be something so simple as coming to Mass a little earlier to read slowly and thoughtfully one of the Bible passages of the day. They are listed each week in the Bulletin, and you can find the chapters and verses of each Sunday’s Bible readings in the missal in your pews. You can even bring with you your Bible from home and read the full passage before Mass. Imagine that, Catholics bringing the Bible to Church! It’s not just for our Protestant brothers and sisters!
Even more, you might consider signing up for a series of classes on the Bible.
The Augustine Institute offers classes. Regis University offers classes. The Denver Biblical Institute offers classes. FORMED.ORG offers classes on-line.
The real trick to studying the Bible is not to bite off too much but to be patient with ourselves. Take one passage, one day at a time, and it’s amazing how fruitful this can be. The challenge is to take that first step!
Fr. Mark Zacker