I grew up in a house where the bible has always been enthroned in one of the corners of the living room but dusty. No one dared to open and read it except my mother whose passion for the word of God was unmatched but still remained unsuccessful despite huge attempts enforcing it to the family. was nonchalant. I knew it was divine and conveyed eternal truths but back then, I had no special interest partly because it was ancient in origin and content was beyond my grasp. It was by far difficult to understand. God forgive me but I thought, the conflicts were totally irreconcilable, message was only for people in robes while myself gets it by proxy, resources to improve my athletic skills and further advance my scientific leanings were limited. And also, the more Catechists told me about it, the more it led me to confusion, as it were.
In high school, there probably was a course offered about the bible but I had no recollection. In college, I read it solely out of a sense of obligation. As a student, I was afraid that failure to pass even a short quiz in the OT would render my monthly allowance forfeited which meant no weekly trip to the movie theatre and budget cuts for grocery items and personal necessities. Not me. It was a prime example of someone whose motivation in studies was purely utilitarian and maybe, pragmatic, too.
Overtime, I demonstrated a high level of interest which was inspired a great deal by my Rector in College Seminary, who spent most his life studying the bible and in fact, translated it into the vernacular. I haven’t known anyone who didn’t want to emulate him. He lived the gospel. He illustrated a single minded devotion and shown an unparalleled dedication, which were the surest way possible to put it into practice. I joined his small bible group that met every tuesday evening for the celebration of the word and I was rightfully invested. It had pleasant surprises. The word of God started to come alive. It made sense. There was a huge and dramatic change. My precious little time was marked by scripture meditation with a great sense of joy, awe and enthusiasm and I delved into it, not for grades or recognition, not even for righteousness’ sake but a gradual entry into life with God.
The bible was written in such a way as to give meaning to life. As one author said, it is not only a story of admirable and respectable people but also, of scoundrels who did great disservice to God, whose names and stories are forever inscribed into the annals of sacred history. Despite, he didn’t balk from his promises. And this, for sure, is the bedrock message and not to give a historical account of the world. The bible teaches nothing but love. This should be crystal clear for anyone essentially engaged in the study and preaching of the Word. I painstakingly wrestle with the hard sayings of Jesus, feast at the depths of his teachings, search and discover the profound realities that lie behind the verses, let the truth of scripture sink into my heart and take me from the mundane to anything beyond the familiar, to the road less traveled, to an unknown and uncertain world but wonderfully refreshing, deeply meaningful and life changing. Time and again, I look at every text in light of human experience which I firmly believe is the starting point of any spiritual quest.
This perhaps is the reason why I entered priestly life…