Come Unto Me through Word and Sacrament

“Come unto me all ye who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you.”  How do we come to Christ? Christ invited us to come to him through word and sacrament.

The living Christ invites us to be refreshed at the altar. When we come to him in living faith and receive the sacrament with living faith, he will give us the rest that is needed in the midst of the inevitable turmoil and adversity that everyone must face in life.

The living Christ also invites us to come to him, to ponder and be refreshed in his Word through the Scriptures, whose deeper spiritual meaning is mediated through our 2000-year-old tradition animated by the Holy Spirit, promised to us by Jesus, who said “I will send you the Holy Spirit, and he will lead you into all truth.”

Since Jesus has so kindly given us this invitation, this way to know him, then we should consider the ongoing study of the scriptures essential to the life of every Christian, for the leading of a full Catholic life.

There is a new study group beginning here, coming out of a recent meeting I had with two young women in the parish who really want to make this parish a center for young adult ministry. It was very exhilarating. Ann Bowie who will conduct this study is well qualified to do so. She did her undergraduate degree in Classics at the University of Virginia, and then pursued her theological degree at the University of Notre Dame. I admire their initiative, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to say “Father, we have an idea. Give us your blessing, and we will make it happen.”  This all fits into the context of the invitation of Our Lord to come to him. Ann spoke with such conviction as she extended this invitation to all the young adults of the city:

“Join young adults at Saint Benedict Catholic Church for a Bible Study of the Psalms every Sunday at 7 pm at the parish starting Sunday, July 13. Discussion in this Bible study will be grounded in the magisterial teaching of the Church as the study leader will be reading and sharing Augustine’s famous commentary on the Psalms as a basis for learning and discussion of the Biblical text.

One of the most read works in the Middle Ages, Augustine’s commentary on the Psalms is a window into the Church’s figural way of reading the Old and New Testaments as well as the man whom Dante hailed as the supreme Christian poet, King David. As the Book of Sirach describes him,

‘In all that he did he gave thanks to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory; he sang praise with all his heart, and he loved his Maker.’ (Sirach 47:8)

An ancient Christian poem says of David and his Psalms,

‘Be silent, Orpheus; thy lyre throw aside, O Hermes. The tripod at Delphi hath sunk into oblivion forevermore. For us David doth now play the Spirit’s lyre, The hidden things of God’s mysteries he revealeth; A multitude of ancient wonders he narrateth; Of the Creator of creation, doth he move one to sing.’

Come delve into the hidden things of God’s mysteries and sing in thanksgiving of the Creator of creation at Saint Benedict’s, Sundays at 7 pm starting July 13!”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great. Window in Saint Benedict Parish, Richmond, Virginia.

When we listen to the text “Come unto me,” Jesus invites us to come to him through the scriptures. It reminds us of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who dedicated his whole life to the study of scripture. Saint Gregory the Great understood the role of scripture in the life of the Church because that is how we come to Jesus. And so he says, “For us to search out the depth of the Scripture is to contemplate the good things of eternity.” And his whole career as Pope was not only to nourish the biblical culture of the clergy but also the laity through preaching and fostering the reading of the sacred scripture among the laity. But he continues: “Simple believers often have a deeper understanding of the Bible than the learned, because it is really the measure of our good works that shows how deeply we have gone into the mystery of the things of eternity.”

The wonderful text of the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time is an invitation to come to Jesus through Word and Sacrament.  “For although you have hidden these things from the wise and the clever you have revealed them to the little ones.”

We have received a beautiful 2000-year-old tradition guided by the Holy Spirit, unfolding the truth of Jesus. So we are not like the learned who set themselves above the tradition; but rather, like little children we set ourselves within in the tradition, so that the hidden things of the kingdom will be revealed. Pope Saint Gregory the Great’s quote is very beautiful indeed, for us to search out the depths of the scripture is to contemplate the good things eternity, that is those hidden things, those good things of eternity.