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Word of God Sunday 3B

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. . .

they do.

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. . .

something big.

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?. . .

No.

Are you praying?. . .

No.

Are you reading the Bible?. . .

No.

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.

She explains:

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. . .

Amen.

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.

Oh my,

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.

For me,

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

I asked:

“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