How often do you read your Bible? Once a day? Once a week? At all? I can only speak for myself, but I think that consistently reading the Bible can be one of the toughest parts of being Catholic, especially as a young person. For the longest time, it was something I REALLY struggled with. I'd sit down, determined to read from Genesis to Revelations, but I never got more than a few chapters in before giving up. Why was that? Why was something that's supposedly so central to our faith so difficult for me?
Here's the thing: I was doing it all wrong. If you try to read the Bible from front to back in one go, your chances of getting through it are probably not that high. My secret, and how I've been able to make the Bible a much bigger part of my life, is that I start with the verses.
Okay, I know that sounds a little weird. Start with the verses? Isn't the whole Bible made up of verses? You're absolutely right. What I'm referring to is finding some verses that speak to you, move you, or even just sound cool, and reading the books and chapters that they're in. A few of my favorites are "(Jesus) sighed from the depth of His spirit," "Jesus wept," and "For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable" (Mark 8:12, John 11:35, and Romans 11:29, respectively).
I happen to really resonate with verses that show us the humanity of Jesus, like when He sighs with weariness at the Pharisees' lack of understanding or when He weeps with sorrow at the death of his friend Lazarus. Those are my preferences, though. Any number of things can speak to us from the Bible. Today, however, I want to focus on just one verse that I really love. A verse that, to me, just SOUNDS different from the rest of the Bible: "'And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age'" (Matthew 28:20).
Let's break this down. First of all, these are the last words Jesus speaks in bodily form on Earth, ever, so we know they have to be pretty important. Secondly, is it just me, or does this sound wildly different from most of the language in the Bible? Maybe I'm crazy, but this sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings, right?! I can SO easily picture Gandalf saying something like this.
Quick side note, remember back in my Rise of Skywalker post where I said I liked Star Wars enough to discuss it but wasn't a crazy superfan? Yeah.....forget all of that with regards to Lord of the Rings. I'm obsessed. You wanna know who Sauron's boss was a thousand years before the War of the Ring? I've got you covered (it was Melkor, Lord of the Rings' version of Satan). You wanna know who the true hero and main character of the story is? I'm on it (it is, and forever will be Samwise Gamgee).
Let's not go down that rabbit hole, or I'll be here all day talking about the Fellowship and the One Ring. Back to the truly "precious:" the Word of God. So we have this line from Jesus: "I will be with you always, to the end of the age." I can't quite explain it, but this resonates through my entire being. There are two main things we can take away from this verse as Catholics.
Firstly, Jesus is literally always with us. Always. When we're going through a brutal breakup, when we're failing 3 classes, when it feels like we can't do anything right, He's there in that mess with us. These are the times that we often reach out to God for help, and that's good! We should cry to our Father when we need His aid, and He will provide it for us (though not always how we expect Him to). However, Jesus is there in the times where we try to hide from Him, too.
Think about it! If Jesus is with us all the time, shouldn't we act like it? When we're tempted to fall into sin, or to lead others down a bad path, shouldn't Christ's presence give us pause? He's not only there to pick us up when we need help. He also gives us the opportunity to praise Him with our every act, day in and day out.
I think that's pretty cool. God sees when we sin, and it hurts Him deeply, but He also sees when we do good. Even if nobody on Earth will ever know your good deeds, God does. And He never forgets, especially when we help others.
This verse, "I am with you always, to the end of the age," brings me immense comfort. It reminds me that God's on my side no matter what, and that I have been chosen by the Creator of the universe to bring some good into this fallen world (this "Land of Confusion," if you will). And that, if you ask me, is a pretty awesome thing to be chosen for.
I hope that this verse speaks to you as it does to me, but I'd encourage you to find your own! God speaks to us through every single book of the Bible, and I guarantee there's parts in there that you've never even heard of before. It doesn't have to be an hour a day, but I urge you to crack the Word open every once in a while. I bet you'll be happy you did.