The Transformative Power of the Bible

By Dr. Mario Guzman, a parishioner at Our Lady of Mercy in Aurora, who also attends Ss. Peter and Paul in Naperville

In 1908, G. K. Chesterton published a book titled: Orthodoxy. It was an answer to modernism, the philosophy that rejects religion and tradition, but furthermore the necessary reason and critical thinking for the appropriate development of the mind and the soul. Understanding what was to come due to this doctrine, Chesterton decided to defend the truth, which is expressed in Christianity, and he did it in a very articulate and clever way. Now, more than a century after, modernism has been left behind, and we now face postmodernism with an even more extreme view of the world disregarding everything that is objective, moral and even biological.

Postmodernism is the epitome of relativism and is also the dominant way of thinking in our time. As a consequence of that, the world is increasingly becoming secularized. Chesterton saw that this would happen and tried to prevent us, but it seems that we did not pay attention.

With the changes brought by modernism and postmodernism have also come an increasing number of people who disregard the teachings of the Bible, even affirming that its content is mere fiction or offers a rudimentary way of understanding the world in a pre-scientific or pre-modern era. It seems that those whom affirm this do not acknowledge the different levels of understanding reality, especially the ultimate reality that is God.

Both the objective and the spiritual worlds are part of what we call reality, and science and history can help us to understand the former, but the Bible helps us to understand the latter. Therefore, we should not take the books that make up the Bible lightly. The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), put it this way: “We must acknowledge that the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.” In other words, the Bible references faith and morals, which we need for our salvation – not history and science – and these references are free from error.

Thus, the Bible is what God has revealed to generation after generation, where men and women, who had openness to transcendence, have seen themselves radically transformed. Unfortunately, only few today have such openness, so the rest disdain what is inside the books that constitute the Bible.

In spite of this, the Bible does not stop surprising generation after generation because it brings light on human nature and its relationship with God and His creation. That light has become present, again, in the narration of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by a celestial fire, which had been considered just a story, a fictional story invented to control people and impose a homophobic, heteropatriarchal and xenophobic vision. However, there has recently been an extraordinary discovery that should invite us to reflect deeply on its meaning… a group of archaeologists from different universities has found that, indeed, these cities were destroyed by a celestial fire caused by the explosion of a meteor that burned everything and kept the region sterile, impossible to generate life for 700 years.

This discovery may have many interpretations, but at least it seems an invitation to take the texts inscribed in the Bible with greater seriousness, not to be carried away by the contemporary narrative that seeks to diminish its importance and to recover the appreciation for what is said in it. If we do so, maybe we can see and recognize how much we still have to discover and learn from their texts to be transformed by them.

Catholics consider the Bible as the revealed word of God, as an inspiration in men and women throughout history, as something that must be taken with great seriousness. As St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-16:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be fully qualified for every good work.”

Hence the enormous need to return to the constant study of the Bible, because as Our Teacher warned us in Matthew 4:4, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. ”

Reading and being open to the transforming power of the Bible becomes the vehicle of dialogue between God and His children, because all dialogue involves speaking and listening. When we pray, we speak; when we read the Bible, we listen to Him. That is why Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI invited us to study and be in constant meditation of the Bible, to do it through Lectio Divina, because it is a method for such communication or dialogue.

The Bible has the reality of seeing life the way the Lord wants us to see it; this reality is different from the everyday and the mundane, with the purpose of transforming it. To achieve this, each of us needs to spend time studying Scripture, meditating on it, but, above all, letting it work in our hearts.

Whoever wants to know more about the archaeological discovery in what was Sodom and Gomorrah can consult it in the following page: