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Reading Scripture

My grandfather, Domenico Paolino, was an avid reader in both English and Italian, but nobody in our family had any doubt as to what was his favorite book.
It was a collection of passages excerpted from an Italian-language Bible.
Nor did anyone in our family have any doubt as to what was his favorite chapter in that book. It was the story of Joseph and his brothers.
Grandpa read that book over and over.
When he got to the section from the Book of Genesis containing the account of Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers and the siblings’ dramatic reconciliation, Grandpa would always stop at least one of us and ask the same question he had asked on his last journey through this book:
“Have you ever read the story of Joseph and his brothers?”
It didn’t matter whether the answer was “yes” or “no.” Grandpa would repeat the story anyway, and by the time he came to the declaration, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt,’’ Grandpa would be in tears, deeply affected by the message of compassion and forgiveness that would be central to the teaching of Jesus himself.
I realize now that Grandpa was aware that we all had heard this story many times but that he felt compelled to share the impact it always had on him.
A few months ago, I wrote on this site that my grandfather was devout and that he quietly practiced enormous charity that I learned about only from third and fourth parties.
It seems clear that these aspects of his life were integrated with his constant immersion in Scripture.
Grandpa was ahead of the curve, in a way, because in his generation and the one that followed it Scripture reading was more likely to be associated with Protestant Christians than with Catholics.
However, the Second Vatican Council, whose teachings are being revisited during this Year of Faith, encouraged study of the whole Bible as central to Christian life.
In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation known as Dei Verbum — “the word of God” — promulgated on November 18, 1965, the council encouraged “all Christians . . . to learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures the ‘excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ’ (Phil. 3:8). … (T)hey should gladly put themselves in touch with the sacred text itself, whether it be through the liturgy, rich in the divine word, or through devotional reading, or through instructions suitable for the purpose. …”
So all of the Scriptures, Old and New Testaments, help us to understand and respond to the ministry of Jesus. In that sense, we can never have too much of them.
And, as Grandpa’s experience demonstrated, the Scriptures were written in antiquity, but when they are read thoughtfully, prayerfully, in the light of Divine Tradition and Church teaching, they are forever new.

Charles Paolino is a member of the RENEW staff and a permanent Deacon in the Diocese of Metuchen.

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One Response to “Reading Scripture”

  1. […] be associated with Protestant Christians than with Catholics. … Originally posted here: Reading Scripture – The Official Blog by Renew International ← 'Color of Christ': A Story of Race and Religion in America JEREMIAH 11/21 by […]

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