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God’s conversation with us

I found myself scrolling through Facebook the other night, looking for an idea for a writing topic. It had been an interesting social media day, where a particularly contentious post on my wall had unintentionally been posted publicly, inviting people of all walks of life to chime in on a topic that presses all kinds of hot buttons. I commented that this night was a particularly good time to be looking for topics outside of politics.

As friends offered ideas (the bonus here is that I now have column ideas well through Easter), someone wrote something that so resonated with me that I knew I’d write on her topic first. My friend Jenny Bales commented that I should write about “steeping ourselves in Scripture … the more I stay in Scripture, the more I'm able to know God and love God and serve God and be light. Our Protestant brothers and sisters are so good at living in the Word. As Catholics, I think we need to be taught and reminded of this. Peace and joy are found in His Word. Not my Facebook feed.”

I spent the better part of December writing a Scripture study for Lent. Every day, I wrote two or three essays about three or four Scripture verses each. I was steeping myself in Scripture. The result? Everywhere I turned, throughout the days, I could see that God had something to tell me about Himself. Scripture is God’s conversation with us. It’s how He makes Himself known to us in a dialogue.

Catholics receive our Lord in the Eucharist; we take Him into ourselves in a very real and present way. But do we ignore Him when He tries to speak to us? When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Mt 4:4). Do we try to live by bread alone? Do we try to sustain a relationship without conversation?

To truly know someone takes time. It takes careful listening and quiet attention. I wonder how many of us spend as much time wondering what God thinks as we do scrolling through social media looking for ideas, or opinions, or arguments. (After this week, I’m thoroughly convinced people go looking for arguments.) We have time. We can read what God has to say every day. Even if we gave Him a fraction of the time we give to other reading, we’d give Him significant time.

This time with an open heart and an open Bible is valuable time; it’s time worth prioritizing. It is the scaffolding upon which to build a peaceful day, no matter what comes. The days that start with Scripture are the days that feel firmly rooted for me. If I put myself in the presence of His Word and earnestly engage, He never ever fails to meet me there, to show me something. Reliably, predictably, He is fully present to teach me about Himself — and about myself.

Scripture is timeless truth. It doesn’t matter what’s whirling in the world. His Word is as relevant today as yesterday and as centuries ago, as fresh as a paper clean off the press. St. Jerome once said, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Ignorance comes when we ignore. Catholics hear so much Scripture at Sunday Mass. To truly know Him, it would be good to not ignore Him the other six days of the week.

Foss, whose website is elizabethfoss.com, is a freelance writer from Northern Virginia.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017