Scripture readings have something new to say each time

in the beginning
Father Mike Stubbs is the pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park and has a degree in Scripture from Harvard University.

by Father Mike Stubbs

As a young boy, I once read Homer’s “The Odyssey.” It fascinated me with its tales of adventure, of fantastic monsters and feats of strength. 

Now, many years later, whenever I read “The Odyssey,” it causes me to reflect on my own life as a journey, as a pale imitation of Odysseus’.

Just as Odysseus searched for his home, I also am pursuing goals in my life. “The Odyssey” also impresses me with its examples of loyalty and faithfulness.  

“The Odyssey” has something for everyone, for all ages. You can read it, and then read it again, and each time come away with a new insight.

That is what makes it a true classic. A classic not only weathers the ages, it also always has something new to say.

In their youth, the people of Israel had listened to the Law of Moses, the Torah. It had shaped them into a nation. It had guided their lives.

But then, their nation was overrun by the Babylonians. The Israelites were taken into captivity. In the ensuing chaos, the Law of Moses was often forgotten or lost.

That sets the scene for Sunday’s first reading, Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10.

The Israelites who had been in exile have recently returned home. The priest Ezra brings out the book of the Law, which had been misplaced or forgotten for so many years, and reads it out loud to the people.

Some were hearing it for the very first time. Others, perhaps, had heard snippets of it in their youth. But for all, it had something new to say. It would give them a fresh start.

Many wept on hearing it, perhaps out of joy. Or perhaps others wept out of regret for not knowing, and thus not obeying, the Law.

The Scriptures always have something to say. That was true for these Israelites over 2,000 years ago. That is true for us Catholics now.

We may hear the Scriptures read to us at Mass, over and over again. The Scripture readings for Sunday Mass repeat in a three-year cycle. But each time, we are in a different place in our life. And each time, those words have something new to say to us.

That will happen throughout all eternity. As Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mk 13:31).

They will always remain with us, to speak to our hearts and to guide us in truth.  

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