Thursday, December 6, 2012

Apocrypha...Say What? by Linda Maynard

Growing up, I attended a Catholic School and so my religious education took place as part of the curriculum.

I do remember studying the Catechism, but not studying the Bible. It was never mentioned or offered in those years.

While attending Mass, the Catholic Sunday Service, there is a part of the Mass, when the priest reads a portion from the Bible. He reads one portion from the Old Testament and another portion from the New Testament. Then he gave what was called a Homily, which is kind of like a sermon or teaching on what he just read.

 I distinctly remembered thinking, “let’s get over the readings before the talk.* and let’s get to the good stuff.”

The sermon/homily was the better part, as far as I was concerned.

*It actually took me many years to realize that these portions of the readings, were from the Bible and were quite important.

The only Bible, I had ever seen in our home, was a huge Family Bible. It usually sat on an end table in the Living Room. A far as I know, it was never read. I remember casually looking at it and wondering why all the information was not filled out. You know information like marriages, births etc.

As an adult, I was introduced to the Bible, in a more personal manner. My new southern friend, Linda invited me to a Bible Study.

I politely refused her many times.

One day I said OK and was immediately filled with fear and anxiety. I not only knew so little about the Bible, but these women seemed like they were all Protestants. Who knew what heresies they would try to teach me?

Still, I wasn’t too taken aback by the study part, as I really liked Linda and I was sure that she understood my lack of knowledge. I trusted that she would do me no harm.

The women welcomed me and I generally felt accepted. However, I must admit that I was still a little nervous about being with these Protestant women. We were warned about taking part in non-Catholic services.

Linda purchased my first Bible. Doing that, she followed specific instructions that the Lord gave her. He told her, “Buy Linda (me) a Bible, but it has to be a Catholic Bible, as she will not accept one that isn’t Catholic.”

That was 100% accurate.

So I continued meeting weekly with these women with my very own Bible.

I remember an incident from the early days of that Bible Study Group.

Ruth, our leader, was hospitalized. During her recuperation, we each volunteered to go over in an afternoon to keep her company.

When I was with her, we had a pleasant conversation. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, even though I only knew her for a short while.

In the course of our visit, I told her that I had prayed and asked the Lord for something to read to her from my Bible, to encourage her. So I did. She seemed to be appreciative of the entire visit.

It wasn’t until many years later, that I realized I had read a portion of the Apocrypha, which of course is included in Catholic Bibles, but not in Protestant ones.

While contemplating that, I was so impressed that Ruth, who was Protestant, through and through said nothing except thanks. Her ancestry being from England, was of a solid New England Protestant.

She must have seen that my reading, of that portion of scripture, came from a giving heart. She was not about to get into a theological discussion about whether the Apocrypha was valid. She didn’t use it as an opening to “correct” me.

That wasn’t a sermon per se, but it really was.

You have heard the quote “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

This was a perfect example of that being lived out.

It taught me more than any others, who may have had degrees and letters, ad infinitum behind their name.

She was a teacher, par excellence. Maybe not in the formal sense, but that day, she taught me through her actions, how to live out the words of the Gospel. There wasn’t a little chime that rang along with an announcement…”practical application!” Yet there it was…the word becoming flesh.

She travelled on the higher road.

She picked the better way.

She had chosen not to educate me or diminish my intention.

She exercised a measure of humility that day.

I left her house, feeling the pleasure of giving of myself to another human being.

She made that completely possible, through her silence.

The right exegesis didn’t trump that day….rather LOVE did!

1 comment:

Joyce said...

Beautiful and so Christ like -- the saying about preaching the gospel and if necessary use words comes from St. Francis of Assisi. How ironic.