Jonah 3:1-5, 10 /1st Corinthians 7:29-31 /Mark 1:14-20
I’ve got a confession to make.
I really fell in love with the Bible—
fell in love with the Word of God—
not when I was a Protestant. . .
but when I became Catholic.
So many have come up to me said
the reason you like the Bible so much,
is because you were raised Protestant.
Now it is true that I went to
Sunday School every week and
we always. . .
always learning another Bible story.
And it is true that my grandmother
bought me a Bible when I was a little boy
and I promised her I would read a
chapter of the Bible every night
before I went to bed.
Most nights I would read Psalm 117. . .
the shortest Psalm—
the shortest chapter
in the whole Bible—
only 2 verses.
Now it’s so true that
many, many Protestants
know the Bible backwards and forwards. . .
And have a great understanding of it. . .
I just wasn’t one of them.
But when I became Catholic. . .
I started falling in love with the Bible—
especially the Gospels.
At a time in my life after
I had accomplished all the secular goals
I had set for myself.
I found that there was still
something missing in my life. . .
And in God’s Providence,
I reached out to a priest.
And at that first meeting
this priest asked me three questions:
Are you going to Church?. . .
Are you praying?. . .
Are you reading the Bible?. . .
And I started reading the Gospels. . .
really reading. . .
really delving into the words of Jesus.
and it just started to click. . .
A Black Preacher I was reading
put into words
what happened to me.
She was writing about
what the Bible did for her.
I always. . .
I always begin with the Bible. . .
I saturate myself with it!!!
And this process allows me
to be found. . .
it allows me to be found
by an ever-pursing God.
And when I allow myself to be found
by God in His Word. . .
I discover who I am. . .
I discover who I am!!!
Amen to that. . .
That’s what happened to me.
God pursues me in
the Words of Scripture. . .
I allow myself to be found. . .
and God reveals to me who I am.
I discover my dignity. . .
made in the image and likeness of God.
I discover my destiny here on earth. . .
I discover how to live. . .
to be like Jesus. . . .
to be a witness to the Kingdom of God.
I discover my eternal destiny. . .
to be with God and the angels and saints forever.
I discover that I am loved infinitely. . .
that nothing can separate me from the love of God.
And discover that I can’t
achieve this destiny on my own. . .
but only through the grace of God
It’s God Who achieves it for me.
And I discover when I fall. . .
I am loved and forgiven. . .
And lifted back up.
how God pursues us in
the Words of Scripture. . .
and when we allow ourselves to be found. . .
God reveals to us who we are.
I can remember so plainly,
sitting in my living room in Paintsville, Ky. . . .
and reading the story of the rich young ruler
where Jesus asked the wealthy man
to sell what he has and give to the poor. . .
and the man went away sad
because he had many possessions.
I knew the story. . .
I had read it before. . .
But this time, I realized it was me.
I was that rich young ruler. . .
But I discovered that wasn’t
who I was meant to be.
God was calling me to someone different.
God is still working with me on that. . .
Moving me toward my true self. . .
My true destiny.
What a discovery.
I can also remember sitting
in that same living room
over 20 years ago. . .
and reading again the story of Jesus
raising Lazarus from the dead. . .
But this time I discovered I was Lazarus. . .
Jesus raising me up
from an old way of life
that was really dead. . .
and into a new way of life. . .
God’s still working with me on this one too.
And I can remember reading. . .
as if for the first time. . .
the story of Samaritan woman sitting at the well . . .
And Jesus approaching when she was all alone. . .
And engaging her in that personal way
that only Jesus can do. . .
And Jesus offering her living water. . .
that living water that quenches our deepest thirsts.
He changed her life. . .
But this time when I read it. . .
it was a discovery. . .
I was her. . .
He was changing my life. . .
and I went and told my friends about it.
And I read in a new way
the Agony in the Garden
and the rest of the Passion
the Crucifixion. . .
And for the first time, I heard Jesus tell me. . .
Tell me. . .
I was forgiven. . .
And loved infinitely.
And I read about and studied the Resurrection. . .
And I discovered I could rise with Him on the last day. . .
I bet you’ve had some similar experiences
with the Word of God. . .
Through those Sacred Words. . .
Discovering who you really are. . .
Discovering your destiny.
And for me,
those Sacred Words are more than
just words of discovery.
Those Words. . .
Those Words of God. . .
They move me. . .
They move me at the core of my being.
Those Words comfort me and re-assure me
when I need to be comforted and re-assured. . .
Those Words challenge me and humble me
when I need to be challenged and humbled. . .
Those Words teach me and lead me. . .
Those Words strengthen me and empower me. . .
Those Words stretch me and shape me. . .
The Words excite me and move me. . .
Those Words propel me
out into the world as a different and better person.
falling in love with the Bible
has been a journey of self-discovery and motivation. . .
a journey of grace.
In that same living room in Paintsville,
I can also remember asking
the dumbest question.
I was looking at the Bible
“Where have you been all my life?”
Well, it was always right in front of me. . .
Maybe on a bookshelf. . .
or on a table. . .
or in a closet. . .
I don’t remember.
But it was right in front of me.
Just waiting for me to pick it up. . .
And really read it. . .
And pray it. . .
and saturate myself in it. . .
And discover “Who I am”
and to propel me
out into the world as a
different and better person.
And I’m still discovering!!!
Holy Spirit 1/24-25/2021