VOICE FROM THE SOUTH

emeterio barcelon - The Holy Bible
Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

The Holy Bible is the book that guides our daily life towards heaven. The earliest extant Bible that we have dates back to about 400 years after the birth of Christ. The three synoptic gospels were put down in writing about 60 years after the birth of Jesus and the last that of John was put down in writing about the year 90 AD to 100 AD. We have the Vulgate version of the Bible translated into Latin from the original Greek or Hebrew by St. Jerome about the year 400.

When Jesus left in the Ascension, He did not leave a book but He left a Church built on the rock, Peter. In the Last Supper He asked us to celebrate the Eucharist in memory of Him. The Apostles passed on the life and teachings of Jesus by word of mouth until they could put it down in writing. And all this writing was done by hand until the invention of the printing press in the 16th century.

The Holy Bible is the word of God and the Church is its interpreter.  The Church determined the books that certified which were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Without the Church the interpretation becomes personal interpretation that proliferates into the 30,000 different denominations of the Protestant churches. There is the one Church that Jesus left to guide us so that the good willed believers do not get confused on how to interpret the different passages of the Holy Scriptures.

The two main parts are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the narrative of how God chose the Jewish people to be His people. It recounts creation and the disobedience of Adam and Eve from whom we inherited original sin and the choice of Abraham and his clan as the chosen people, our ancestors in the faith. It foretold the coming of the Messiah, Jesus.

The New Testament is the narrative of Salvation through the incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and His life and teachings.  God became man in Jesus and opened for us the way to heaven. He made atonement for our sins and forgave us our transgressions. He tried to prove He was the Messiah but the Jewish hierarchy would not accept Him. They knew Him as a carpenter from Nazareth and could not therefore be the promised Messiah by the prophets. Their vision of the Messiah in spite of the Prophets was a world king that would liberate them from the Roman domination.  And therefore they could not accept a suffering Messiah. It also recalls how unfaithful were the Jewish people and their repentance time and again.

The New Testament is the narrative of Jesus and His life and teaching. He raised back to life at least three dead people but the Jewish high priests and their cohorts would not believe Him. He forgave sins so they accused Him of blasphemy for only God can forgive sins.  He was telling them that He was God made man but they could not accept that for their image of the Messiah was one of power in this world, not a suffering Messiah.  He was telling them that it was important that the Messiah needed to make atonement for man’s sins to reopen the gates of heaven.  But they wanted a king of this world.  Jesus kept repeating that in spite of His miracles He was a suffering Messiah to open heaven and give us an example of how to live in this world that will bring us to heaven and avoid the fires of hell. He walked on water, fed thousands of people, and cured all sorts of disease but those were not enough for them to believe. He Unlike the other great teachers like Buddha or the Hindu teachers who only taught, He taught but also offered Himself as a sacrifice.  He asked us to offer His sacrifice over the centuries in commemoration of Him.

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