We just completed the 10:30 Family Mass and the Bible Presentation to our 6th grade students. It was GREAT! I thank all of the students and families who were present. More than 400 people filled the church and a wonderful Spirit was evident.
As we presented the Bibles to each student their name was called and they came forward to receive their Bible. They then returned to their seats. Following the presentation I spoke to each of the students and all assembled in a brief, but appropriate homily.
I began with a poem called Side by Side. The poem shows how so often we can let other things get in the way of our reading and studying God’s Word. Often worldly attractions distract us from concentrating on the way God calls us to live. Yet, it is in the Bible that we find the true way of living a good and fulfilling life. I offer the poem to you here. The author is not known. I hope you enjoy it and learn from it.
Side by Side
They lie on the table side by side, The Holy Bible and the TV guide. One is well worn and cherished with pride, No not the Bible, the TV guide.
One is used daily to help folks decide, No, not the Bible, the TV guide.
As the pages are turned, what shall they see, oh what does it matter, turn on the TV.
Then confusion reigns, they can’t all agree, On what they should watch on the old TV. So they open the book in which they confide, No not the Bible…but the TV guide.
The Word of God is seldom read, Maybe a verse as they fall into bed.
Exhausted and sleepy and tired as can be, Not from reading the Bible…from watching TV.
So then back to the table side by side, Lie the Holy Bible and the TV guide. No time for prayer, no time for the Word, The plan of Salvation is seldom heard.
But forgiveness of sin and Life, so full and so free, is found in the Bible…NOT on TV!
I also recalled what one of our professors who taught scripture in the seminary use to tell us…”ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of God.” That always stuck with me and it really is true. God has revealed to us the way we are to live and How we are to know and follow Him. It is all contained in His Holy Word – the Bible. All we must do is take it seriously, read it and live it.
I ended my presentation with the instruction that was given to me and my classmates on the day we were ordained Deacons in September 2002, nine months before we became priests. Bishop Timothy McDonnell (who was then an Auxiliary Bishop of New York and now is the Bishop of Springfield, Massachuesetts) presented each of us with a Book of the Gospels with these words: “Receive the Book of the Gospels whose herald you now are. Meditate on the Word of God. Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. And, put into practice what you teach.”
That instruction is good, in my opinion, not just for deacons or priests, but for all Christians who want to live a life close to God. It is my hope and prayer that all of our 6th graders and all parishioners will grow daily in their love for God’s Word believing it, teaching it and then putting it into practice. If we do this we can transform for the better our parish, our community, our country and our world.