Homily of Archbishop William E. Lori
Friday 9th Week of Ordinary Time Year II
Knights of Columbus State Deputies Meeting
New Haven, CT June 8, 2012
Years ago, a cousin of mine complained that he found Scripture hard to understand. I asked him how he was reading it. He told me he started with the Book of Genesis and was working his way through the Bible, book by book He got bogged down somewhere in the Second Book of Kings and never recovered his momentum, if I could put it that way. “Not only is it hard to understand,” my cousin said in exasperation, “but I’m not sure what much of it has to do with my life.”
Needless to say, my cousin’s assessment of the Bible differs notably from St. Paul’s. This morning, in his Second Letter to St. Timothy, we read: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reflection, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped, for every kind of good work.”
I will grant to my cousin that there is a lot in the Bible and that, at first glance, some of what we find in the Bible may not seem to have much to do with our contemporary lives. But, as I tried to explain to him over dinner, “…Through all the words of Sacred Scripture, God speaks only a single word, his one utterance, in whom he expresses himself completely.”
In other words, when we read Scripture or listen to its being proclaimed, we should remind ourselves that it truly is the inspired Word of God and therefore, we should have only one goal: to find Christ and to hear his voice, to allow his heart to speak to our heart.
As Pope Benedict XVI has written: “Whenever our awareness of the inspiration of Scripture grows weak, we risk reading it as an object of historical curiosity and not the work of the Holy Spirit in whom we can hear the Lord himself speak and recognize his presence in history.”
A Biblical World View
When we read Scripture in this way, we develop what is sometimes called “a biblical world view”. This has nothing to do with fundamentalism, with Bible thumping or proof texts. Instead, it has to do with framing our whole existence in terms of the single story that the Bible aims to draw us into – from the first page to the last – namely – God the Father’s plan for the salvation of the world – what St. Paul calls, God’s mysterious hidden plan in which God created us in love and redeemed us in Christ with even greater love. The Scripture is, in written form, God’s one word, his only Son, through whom he created us and through whom he redeemed us.
A person with a biblical world view finds the origin and meaning of his life not in his own plans, desires, ambitions, and pleasures – but rather in God’s plan for the world and in God’s providential plan for his life. Such a person never takes God for granted, does relegate him to the margins of his life, and understands that God has given him freedom not to do what he wants but rather to do what he ought and realizes that there are consequences for misusing one’s freedom, in this life and in the life to come.
He understands that the goal of his existence is to become like Christ and that he does so by actively participating in the life of the Church, so that one day he will be fit to share in the Kingdom of Heaven with all the saints.
This is another way of getting at what Fr. McGivney meant when he asked that every Knight of Columbus be a “practical Catholic”.
When we listen to voice of Christ in Scripture as conveyed to us by the Church, we are indeed taught, corrected, made strong in virtue, and equipped for good works. In other words, we are hampered from fulfilling the first principle of the Order, namely, charity - unless we allow the living Word of God, Jesus, Son of David and David’s Lord, to shape how we think, what we believe, how we worship, what decisions we make, and indeed how we participate in the mission of the Knights of Columbus.
When we allow the living Word of God so to shape us, we can expect some consequences in this life that are less than pleasant. St. Paul warns that “all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Today’s psalm response adds: “though my persecutors are many, I will not turn away from your decrees.”
The intent here is not to give one another a persecution complex but rather to make it clear in our minds and hearts that it is never easy to follow Christ, that it is always experienced as a struggle, and that we must be ready joyfully to suffer for his Name.
The current struggle to defend religious liberty must be seen in this way. It is not just a political fight or still less a partisan battle but rather it is a struggle to retain the God-given liberty not only to profess our faith and worship as we see fit but indeed to live out our faith publicly – to allow the living Word of life and love to shape and attend us whether we are at home, in church, at work, among our circle of friends.
And by extension it means the Church of which we are members must be free to fulfill its mission of teaching, worship, and service – unfettered by undue governmental interference, unfettered by governmental attempts to define the Church so narrowly that her influence in our overall culture is greatly diminished.
We have a God-given right to be passionate, convincing proponents of a biblical world view in a very secular world and we should see our beloved Order as a source of fraternal strength in doing so, just as our beloved founder, Father McGivney intended.
As the Jewels of Office are conferred on you, the State Deputies, I pray that you may confirm and strengthen your brother knights and their families in the faith, in opening their minds and hearts to the living Word of God, to Jesus Christ, the Father’s One Utterance whose voice resounds in revelation, in Scripture and Tradition – and who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.