Allow me to share with you my top three scriptural readings that have influenced me in my living a Christian life. They are Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 1 Corinthians: 15: 12-20 and John 21: 1,4 -17.
The reading from Deuteronomy 6:5 reads, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” This is the cornerstone of my faith in God. I remember hearing this in childhood and it has always stuck with me. Little did I know it is very much the cornerstone of the Jewish faith.
So much so that these words in Judaism are known as the schema and are written in Hebrew on parchment and contained in what is known as the mezuzah that is firmly attached to the front doorpost of a Jewish home. It defines a Jewish household in much the same way as a crucifix defines a Christian home.
In effect these words say I serve the Lord not only on Sundays, but also Monday to Saturday. In other words there is no day of the week that I do not serve my Lord. This thought very much motivated me to be a Jesuit in the Society of Jesus.
The reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is a powerful testimony to Paul’s belief in the Resurrection of Jesus. On one occasion I was a Lector at an Eucharist in which I read this passage. In preparation for the reading I read it aloud a couple of times. It was only in the actual reading during the liturgy that I fully understood what Paul was saying.
I began to cry but was able to carry on with the reading. What Paul was saying is that if Christ is not Resurrected from the dead that of all the fools that ever existed he would have to be the greatest! But for Paul that is not a question, Christ is Resurrected from the dead (verse 20).
The reading from John could not be more real. It begins with Jesus preparing breakfast for his disheartened disciples/friends. For them Jesus had been crucified and is no longer with them. Shall we call it breakfast with the risen Christ at The Tiberias. That would be one breakfast I would not have missed! A celebration with much joy and delight.
Breakfast was finished but now was the time to mend fences. Jesus gently reminds Simon Peter of his betrayal of him in the evening before his crucifixion. Three times Jesus settles the score by asking Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me?'” (verses 15, 16 and 17). Imagine being in Simon’s shoes. He is asked the same question not once but three times!
I feel for Simon. I too would have said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” The fence is now mended. Jesus renews his trust in Simon and asks him to serve him by feeding his lambs/sheep (verses 15, 17) tending his sheep (verse 16). Does this remind you of any pastoral care worker who has served you?
I hope these readings have in some way inspired you in living your Christian life. I challenge you to choose your top three scriptural readings and even share them with a friend(s). Perhaps in an article for IgNation.
Be on the look out for the graced moment when a scriptural reading is being read or heard by you. It has the possibility of moving you even moving you deeply. Remember my experience of being a Lector reading 1 Corinthians 15?