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Monsignor Yennock on The Bible: A Catholic Book - Homily from March 11, 2018

Mar 12, 2018

BIBLE A CATHOLIC BOOK

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT MARCH 11, 2018

 

ALMOST EVERY CHRISTIAN KNOW THE VERSE THAT WE HAVE JUST READ FROM JOHN CHAPTER 3 VERSE 16. “GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON SO THAT EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM MAY NOT PERISH BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. (John 3:16)

 

GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE REVEALED HIMSELF TO THE WORLD. GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE WANTS INTIMACY WITH THE PEOPLE HE CREATED. GOD’S LOVE LETTER TO THE HUMAN RACE IS THE BIBLE. NO ONE WHO DESIRES A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD CAN IGNORE THE BIBLE.

 

TODAY I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT THE ORIGIN, AUTHENTICITY, MEANING AND POWER OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY BOOK. WHEN WE EXAMINE HISTORY IT IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION TO SAY THAT THE BIBLE IS A CATHOLIC BOOK.  

 

THERE ARE FOUR REASONS FOR CALLING THE BIBLE, A CATHOLIC BOOK.

 

FIRST, THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS COMMISSIONED BY THE CHURCH.

JESUS DID NOT WRITE ANY BOOKS THAT WE KNOW OF. HE FOUNDED A CHURCH ON THE APOSTLES WITH PETER AS THE LEADER. HE TOLD THE CHURCH TO TEACH AND TO BAPTIZE. WE HAVE NO RECORD OF HIS TELLING THESE MEN TO WRITE ANYTHING.

 

THE CHURCH WAS IN OPERATION AT LEAST 15 YEARS BEFORE THE FIRST GOSPEL WAS WRITTEN. THE CHURCH COMMISSIONED THE SAINTS--MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN TO WRITE DOWN WHAT THEY REMEMBERED ABOUT JESUS. WE CALL THOSE BOOKS THE FOUR GOSPELS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.

 

BY THE YEAR 58 A.D. ST. PAUL HAD WRITTEN 13 LETTERS TO THE CHURCHES THAT HE VISITED IN ROME, EPHESUS, GALATIA, CORINTH, COLLOSSE, THESSOLINICA, AND PHILLIPI. IN EACH OF THOSE CITIES PAUL FOUNDED A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY THAT WE CALL THE CHURCH.

 

BEFORE THE YEAR 100 A.D. WE HAVE LETTERS OF ST. PETER, ST. JUDE, ST. JAMES, AND ST. JOHN. ALL TOGETHER THERE ARE 27 BOOKS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. ALL OF THESE BOOKS WERE WRITTEN UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE CHURCH.

 

THE EARLY CHURCH ALWAYS TAUGHT THAT THE AUTHORS OF THESE BOOKS WERE INSPIRED BY GOD. THE EARLY CHURCH ALWAYS BELIEVED THAT THESE AUTHORS WERE PRESERVED FROM ERROR.   THE EARLY CHURCH ASSURED US THAT WHEN YOU READ THE BIBLE YOU ARE READING THE WORD OF GOD.

 

THE SECOND REASON WHY WE CALL THE BIBLE A CATHOLIC BOOK IS THAT THE CHURCH DEFINED WHICH BOOKS WERE INSPIRED AND TRUSTWORTHY. OUT OF ALL THE BOOKS WRITTEN AT THAT TIME, THE CHURCH EXCLUDED THE BOOKS THAT WERE NOT AUTHENTIC AND INSPIRED. SHE THEN DREW UP A DEFINITIVE LIST FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH.

 

HISTORY RECORDS THAT THE FIRST COMPLETE LIST OF 27 BOOKS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH AT THE COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE IN 397 A.D.

 

EVERYONE TODAY WHO ACCEPTS THE 27 BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT AS INSPIRED BY GOD, ACCEPTS THEM ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE 4TH CENTURY AND ALL THE SUCCEEDING CENTURIES.

 

  1. AUGUSTINE WHO LIVED IN THE FOURTH CENTURY SAID, “I WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE HOLY GOSPELS IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE AUTHORITY OF THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH”.

 

THE THIRD REASON WE CALL THE BIBLE A CATHOLIC BOOK IS THAT THE CHURCH PRESERVED THE BIBLE FOR POSTERITY.  IN THE FOURTH AND FIFTH CENTURIES, THE BARBARIANS FROM THE NORTH AND SOUTH INVADED EUROPE. THEY BURNED EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.

 

THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE AS WELL AS THE GREEK AND ROMAN CLASSICS WERE IN DANGER OF BEING DESTROYED FOR ALL TIMES.

 

HISTORY IS A WITNESS THAT THESE BOOKS WERE RESCUED BY THE CHURCH AND BROUGHT TO THE MONASTERIES ACROSS THE SEA TO THE BRITISH ISLES. HAD THE CHURCH NOT DONE THIS, NO ONE WOULD HAVE THE BIBLE OR THE CLASSICS TODAY.

 

IN THOSE MONASTERIES ACROSS THE SEA, THE MONKS COPIED THE BIBLE BY HAND BEFORE THE INVENTION OF THE PRINTING PRESS.

 

THERE WERE VERY FEW BIBLES IN CIRCULATION BEFORE THE PRINTING PRESS. MOST PEOPLE LEARNED THEIR FAITH NOT BY READING THE BIBLE BUT BY LISTENING TO SERMONS PREACHED DURING MASS, AND IN BIBLE CLASSES TAUGHT BY THE CHURCH.

 

PEOPLE LEARNED BIBLE STORIES, FROM STAINED GLASS WINDOWS, PAINTINGS AND MUSIC.  

 

IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT IN 1517 FATHER LUTHER A ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BEGAN TO TEACH THAT THE BIBLE, NOT THE CHURCH IS THE SOLE RULE OF FAITH.

 

FATHER LUTHER MADE AT LEAST TWO MISTAKES IN HIS TEACHING ABOUT THE BIBLE AND SALVATION. FIRST, HE IGNORED ST. PAUL’S TEACHING TO TIMOTHY (1, TIMOTHY 3:15) THAT THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD IS THE PILLAR AND FOUNDATION OF THE TRUTH.

 

FATHER LUTHER’S SECOND MISTAKE IS THAT HE IGNORED THE HISTORY OF THE FIRST FOUR CENTURIES OF THE CHURCH. MANY PROTESTANT AND EVANGELICAL CHURCHES CONTINUE TO TEACH FATHER LUTHER’S ERROR TODAY.

 

IF THE BIBLE ALONE WAS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION PEOPLE WHO DID NOT HAVE A COPY OF THE BIBLE WOULD NOT BE SAVED.

 

WHEN GUTENBERG INVENTED THE PRINTING PRESS IN THE YEAR 1440 THE FIRST MAJOR BOOK PRINTED BY THE CHURCH WAS ST. JEROME’S LATIN VULGATE EDITION OF THE BIBLE.

 

BEFORE THE PROTESTANT REVOLT FROM THE CATHOIC CHURCH IN 1517 THERE WERE, ALREADY SEVERAL EDITIONS OF THE BIBLE PRINTED IN THE VERNACULAR.

 

THE FIRST PRINTED EDITION OF THE BIBLE IN THE GERMAN VERNACULAR WAS IN1466 IN STRASBURG. FROM 1466 TO 1520 THERE WERE 47 EDITIONS PRINTED IN GERMAN, ITALIAN, FRENCH, BOHEMIAN, DUTCH, RUSSIAN, UKRAN IAN AND RUTHENIAN.

 

TODAY THE BIBLE IS PUBLISHED IN MORE LANGUAGES THAN ANY OTHER BOOK IN HISTORY.

 

THERE ARE ABOUT 7000 LANGUAGES IN ACTIVE USE AT THE PRESENT TIME.       

 

THE COMPLETE BIBLE HAS NOW BEEN TRANSLATED INTO 475 LANGUAGES. THE NEW TESTAMENT HAS BEEN TRANSLATED INTO 1,240 LANGUAGES.

 

AT LEAST ONE BOOK OF SCRIPTURE EXISTS IN ALMOST 2,900 LANGUAGES ACROSS 130 COUNTRIES.

 

THE FOURTH REASON WE CALL THE BIBLE A CATHOLIC BOOK IS THAT THE CHURCH, UNDER THE INSPIRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, IS THE MOST CREDIBLE INTERPRETER OF THE BIBLE. THE CHURCH COMMISSIONED THE BIBLE; THE CHURCH AUTHENTICATED THE BIBLE AND THE CHURCH PRESERVED THE BIBLE FOR POSTERITY.

 

WHILE EVERYONE SHOULD READ THE BIBLE NOT EVERYONE, IS CAPABLE OF INTERPRETING THE BIBLE ACCORDING TO THE NORMS OF THE FIRST FOUR CENTURIES. IN ST. PETER’ SECOND LETTER CHAPTER 1 VERSE 20 WE READ: “NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE COMES FROM SOMEONE'S OWN INTERPRETATION.”  

 

PRIVATE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE WAS AN INVENTION OF THE REFORMERS IN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY DURING THE PROTESTANT REVOLT.

.

HISTORY IS A WITNESS THAT PRIVATE INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE WTHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF THE INFALLIBLE CHURCH, DOES NOT WORK. 500 YEARS OF PRIVATE INTERPRETATION HAVE RESULTED IN 40,000 DENOMINATIONS WITH 40,000 DIFFERENT INTERPRETATIONS.

 

OVER A SIGNIFICANT PERIOD OF TIME PRIVATE BELIEF CHANGES.IN A SURVEY IN 1987 A POLL WAS TAKEN OF 10,000 U.S.A. MAINLINE PROTESTANT CLERGYMEN. THEY WERE ASKED IF THEY BELIEVED THAT THE SCRIPTURES ARE THE INSPIRED, INERRANT WORD OF GOD. THE MAJORITY ANSWERED NO.

 

THOSE WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY OF THE BIBLE SHOULD KNOW THAT THE BIBLE STANDS TODAY AS SOLID AS A ROCK AMONG SCHOLARS. THE BIBLE HAS STOOD UP AGAINST EVERY CHALLENGE OF HISTORICAL CRITICISM.

 

NO OTHER BOOK HAS WITHSTOOD THE CHALENGES THAT THE BIBLE HAS FACED THROUGH THE CENTURIES. CHARLES COLSON, FOUNDER OF WORLDWIDE PRISON MINISTRY WROTE THIS ABOUT THE BIBLE:

 

"THE BIBLE -- BANNED, BURNED, BELOVED. IS MORE WIDELY READ AND MORE FREQUENTLY ATTACKED THAN ANY OTHER BOOK IN HISTORY. GENERATIONS OF INTELLECTUALS HAVE ATTEMPTED TO DISCREDIT IT, DICTATORS OF EVERY AGE HAVE OUTLAWED IT AND EXECUTED THOSE WHO READ IT.  YET SOLDIERS CARRY IT INTO BATTLE BELIEVING IT MORE POWERFUL THAN THEIR WEAPONS.  FRAGMENTS OF IT SMUGGLED INTO SOLITARY PRISON CELLS HAVE TRANSFORMED RUTHLESS KILLERS INTO GENTLE SAINTS"

 

THE BIBLE IS THE MOST READ AND SOLD BOOK IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 100 MILLION COPIES ARE SOLD ANNUALLY. IT’S NOT SURPRISING THAT IT IS THE NUMBER ONE BEST SELLER AMONG THE TOP BEST SELLERS.

 

THE BIBLE IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE MOST TRULY RELIGIOUS WORK EVER PRODUCED BY MANKIND IN ANY RELIGION. WHY?

 

THE BIBLE DEALS WITH THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS OF MAN’S SEARCH FOR PERSONAL MEANING? WHO AM I? WHERE DID I COME FROM? WHY IN THE WORLD AM I HERE? WHERE AM I GOING? HOW DO I GET THERE?

 

THE BIBLE HAS BROUGHT WISDOM, SPIRITUAL COMFORT AND PEACE TO BILLIONS OF PEOPLE FOR 4000 YEARS. IS IT WORTH READING 10 MINUTES A DAY? I THINK SO. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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