Read – learn – live – love
While Jesus was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Read – learn – live – love
Jesus answers this spontaneous outburst from the crowd. This woman is overly excited to see the Messiah moving through her town. Jesus takes what she says to give a deep theological lesson. So much importance was given to family ties. Jesus wants to make sure that we all understand that each of us is called to a personal relationship with Christ. He ties it all to hearing the word of God and observing it.
In both the Old and New Testament, we “find sin described as a refusal to hear the word, as a breaking of the covenant and thus as being closed to God who calls us to communion with himself” (Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 26). Thus, Jesus is so enthusiastic about finding followers who try to carry the Word of God in their hearts.
How do we carry the Word of God in our hearts? First, we need frequent contact with Sacred Scripture. “Read the divine Scriptures frequently; indeed, the sacred book should never be out of your hands. Learn there what you must teach” (St. Jerome, Epistula 52). How often do you read the Bible? We can all improve our habits of reading, particularly of the Bible.
Second, we should learn from the Bible. How often do you really take a lesson home from the Bible? When we read the stories from the Old and New Testaments, we are seeing how men and women throughout history have tried to live their lives within a context of faith. It is a challenge for us to learn as well. So often, we can feel out of touch with God. The Bible gives us the opportunity to be attuned to God once again.
Thirdly, we should live out the Bible. The Bible teaches us how to go to Heaven. Often, there is moral teaching that contrasts with what the world is telling us. Where do we allow our hearts to lead us? The Bible gives us spiritual sustenance so that we can live according to the will of God. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
Read – learn – live – love. These are three steps that can ensure that we are getting out of the Bible what we are meant to get out of it. Each step is important. Without the assiduous contact of reading, we are out of touch with the Bible. If we do not learn from studying it, the message will not penetrate our minds. Finally, we have to live it out. The Bible is not simply literature that belongs to our cultural awareness. There is a whole moral code we are called to live in every day.
The final step is to love. If we are not loving, we are not living as God’s people.