I’m always amazed at people that know how to find Bible verses. They know the book and chapter and verse of every saying, and where to find it. Me, on the other hand, I have general ideas of where things are, and I need a search tool to find the verse and where it’s exactly located in the Bible. But I don’t need to be constantly looking up passages in the book, because they come to mind during the happenings of life. (And that’s often when I know it’s time to open up a reflection to write!) I tell people that it’s like the English-Spanish dictionary I used to carry around all the time in Ecuador. Over time, I didn’t need to have in on me all time, because I didn’t need to be looking everything up. The Spanish was finally coming out of my own mouth!
It was now inside me.
There’s a way that God’s Word found in the Bible gets inside of us. First, a few stories…
There’s a story in the Gospel of a blind man named Bartimaeus who is blind. Jesus is walking by with his entourage, and Bartimaeus calls out for something specific. Even though the entourage shoos him away, he continues, until Jesus invites Bartimaeus to himself. He asks Jesus to be able to see, and incredibly, he gets his sight back. And Jesus tells him to go his own way.
Then, Bartimaeus does something. He follows Jesus. Now, he didn’t read it in the scriptures that he was supposed to do that. He wasn’t told to by anyone. The wisdom and decision to follow Jesus was his own. The voice was no longer just outside him.
It was now inside him.
And what was it he was asking for?
In the same city of Jericho, Zacchaeus was a chief tax-collector. A position that exploited Jews according to the Roman customs. But he wanted to see Jesus as he was passing by, and went out of his way to climb a tree to be able to see over others who blocked his view. Jesus called him to come down, and that this was the day he was going to visit Zacchaeus’ house. He goes inside Zacchaeus’ house, amid everyone mumbling about the fact that Zacchaeus is a public sinner of the highest order. And inside the house, Zacchaeus, spontaneous in his joy, decides to give away half of his possessions to the poor, and over-repay anyone he’s defrauded. Now, he didn’t take out the scriptures and read that and follow it. No one stood there and told him to do all that. The voice wasn’t just outside him.
It was inside him, now.
The Bible is a very big book. It can stay a big book to continue to try to understand. Like a big project we can be proud of, in how we can know it and manage it and manipulate it. Become something like an expert in it.
Or, we can let God love us, forgive us, heal us, in what we find in Jesus. We can allow whatever faith there might be inside of us to speak and trust in God’s unconditional love for us, in Jesus’ real humanity that is intimate to us no matter what has happened to us or what we’ve done.
We can let the scripture come inside of us. So the voice of God speaks to us in dialogues in our lives – from the inside.
We can accept God’s Mercy.
Happy Divine Mercy Sunday.
“Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me.” (Mk 10:47)