One of the many exciting discoveries I have made over the past few years is the Scripture. Particularly in the last year, the discovery of how the Old Testament helps us understand the New Testament has been transformational. Listening to Scott Hahn dive into typology is more than just a pleasant way to pass the almost half hour drive to work.
Reading the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, “discerning in God’s works of the Old Covenant prefigurations of what he accomplished in the fullness of time in the person of his incarnate Son” (CCC 128), is not just for modern scholars and armchair enthusiasts but reaches right back to the early Church and even to Christ himself.
When the risen Jesus apears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “…beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Luke 24:27).
I also particularly love the way in which God uses physical realities to teach us supernatural realities, as recorded in Scripture. In the back of my mind are ideas about sacramentality and the Incarnation which have to do with this but I don’t yet know how to express it. But layers upon layers of meaning can be found in so few lines.
The other day I talked about the shepherds in the opening chapter of Luke. Let us return now to them:
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.” (Luke 2: 16-17)
Two short verses but so rich in meaning. Take the child laying in a manger:
“Augustine drew out the meaning of the manger using an idea that at first seems almost shocking, but on closer examination contains a profound truth. The manger is the place where animals find their food. But now, lying in the manger, is he who called himself the true bread come down from heaven, the true nourishment that we need in order to be fully ourselves.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, p. 68)
And that of all places, Jesus was born in Bethlehem which in Hebrew means “House of Bread” and in Aramaic means “House of Flesh”.
One of the many things I love about working with upper primary students is uncovering just a little of the treasure that is Scripture. We read the story of Abraham and Isaac. They draw the connections between the son who carries the wood upon his back up the mountain for the sacrifice and the Son who carries the wood of the cross upon his back up the hill to sacrifice Himself. We read how God himself will provide the lamb and I remind them of the words of John the Baptist, the words of the mass: Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (Jn 1:29)
And the look on one student’s face when those words are said — that is joy. Joy for her as she encounters Christ, the Son of the Father, the Lamb of God, in scripture and liturgy alike. Joy for me as those in my care come to understand a little more of what they are reading.
I am reminded of the words exchanged between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in his chariot: “So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8: 30-31)
Such joy for the eunuch who desired baptism straight away — the ultimate RCIA experience? — and went on his way rejoicing and such joy for Philip who was able to proclaim the good news about Jesus.
The Scripture is both a pearl of great price and treasure hidden in a field.