Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Scripture Meme - My Three Favorite Verses

Trista tagged me in the "Three Favorite Scripture Verses" meme that has been floating around the Catholic blog world lately. Since I've been eagerly awaiting a tag for weeks, I was very excited (and then took about a month to get this post up, but who's keeping track of time?), so thank you Trista!

After my initial excitement, I then jumped to a feeling of "How on earth can I ever pick just three Scripture passages?"... I might have to do some more reflections on Scripture in the future because the Bible is SO GOOD.


The Bread of Life Discourse - John 6:35-68

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst... 
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?" Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves... I am the bread of life. Your fathers at the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." 
The Jews then disputed among themselves saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will love for ever." This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. 
Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 
After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer walked with him. Jesus said to the Twelve, "Will you also go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
Growing up, I think I always knew that I was supposed to believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, but it didn't really click with me for many years. When I moved to DC and started hearing the words "Real Presence" in pretty much every homily, I was just completely overwhelmed by the whole concept... until I encountered John 6.

There have been countless scholars and theologians and average everyday people who have spent endless hours analyzing this passage - the word choice, the sentence structure, the translation, the meaning behind the words, etc. - and have picked it apart word for word. Protestants will rebuke all Real Presence arguments with the fact that Jesus then claims that only the spirit matters, after he talks extensively about his flesh. Many people just grumble, "Why can't Jesus just come out and say what he means?!"

But if you put all of this aside, and place yourself in the scene, it is obvious that Jesus means exactly what he says. The Jews mumbled and grumbled not once, but twice about this teaching, but Jesus didn't say, "Oh, I'm sorry, you misunderstood what I was saying, I really mean..." Instead, he reiterated what he had already said. Even his own disciples questioned his words, and many of them actually left! Did Jesus shout out to call them back, "Hey, I didn't really mean that whole thing about eating my flesh and drinking my blood! You can come back now!" No. When Jesus said that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood to have life within us, he meant it. 

Reading and reflecting on this passage over and over again made me realize that I couldn't ignore the Real Presence, and this passage led me on my way to believing that the most perfect gift given to us is right in front of us in the Eucharist.


Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. 
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. 
Psalm 139 is one of the many passages given to me for spiritual reading on my silent retreat. When I first read it, I realized that I'd heard it before - in Audrey Assad's song "Known" - and I got really excited.

This passage has really consoled me at times to know that God knows everything about me. Even when I can't feel His presence, He has searched my heart and knows my desires. He knows my thoughts before I even think them. He even seeks me on whatever path I choose to follow. There's nothing that God doesn't know about me, and I can't hide anything from Him. This can be a very scary thought, but also very freeing to be known and understood better than we know and understand ourselves. Audrey Assad eloquently describes this feeling by singing that God knows us "as a lover knows his beloved's heart, all the shapes and curves of her even in the dark."


Mark 9:12-29 (vs. 23-24)

Jesus said to him, "If you are able! - All things can be done for the one who believes." Immediately the father of the child cried out, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
So I had about two or three other passages I was thinking about for my third choice, but I couldn't make a decision (typical me!). I was then listening to Catholic Answer Live on podcast as I tried to fall asleep one night, and one of the callers asked about this passage from the Gospel of Mark, specifically verse 24. It was one of those times, I think, where God answers some of your prayers in a way where you least expect it, and so I quickly looked up this passage while listening.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
Just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness: "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you will receive it, and you will." (Mk 11:24) Such is the power of prayer and of faith that does not doubt: "all things are possible to him who believes." (CCC 2610)
I think that one of the areas I've been struggling with in my prayer life recently has been that I don't have complete faith that God will take care of me. I have doubts about trusting God enough to give Him complete control in my job search. I realized that this has been one of my stumbling blocks when I heard the caller ask about this passage. Now, my new prayer has become one of asking for complete faith, so that when I pray, I won't doubt in the fact that I will receive in abundance.


I won't tag three other people, because I am not really sure who all has tackled this already... but if you haven't posted about this yet, then let's just say that I tagged you! You can even leave a comment and I will add a tag to this post so it's official!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Liesl,
    My name is Kelly Kracht and I work for the Maximus Group, a Catholic marketing and communication agency in Atlanta, GA. We are helping to promote The Mighty Macs movie, and are reaching out to Catholic bloggers across the US, inviting them to special pre-screenings (find trailer here: http://www.themightymacs.com/ ). I was wondering if you could send me your email address so that I can send you the e-vite? Please email me at kkracht@maximusmg.com.

    Thank you and God Bless,
    Kelly Kracht


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