4 Jun 2015
It isn’t enough to quote Scripture. It isn’t enough to say, “the Church teaches” this or “the Church teaches” that. It isn’t enough. The Christian faith demands more; it requires understanding. Jesus recognizes the scribe’s response as having come from a place of “understanding.” And that scribe is “not far from the Kingdom” because of it.
Knowledge of Scripture, knowledge of Church teaching, knowledge of Tradition is one thing. But understanding why we do what we do, and how we teach what we do makes all the difference between passing on knowledge and passing on wisdom and truth. And, of course, that translates directly into how we live and how we evangelize others.
It’s often said that Catholics might not be able to quote Scripture, but they can tell you what it means. And that’s what we aim for—we aim for understanding; not only in what Scripture and our Church and our Tradition say, but also understanding in how to bring that to others.
If we want to evangelize others and share our faith with them, it doesn’t do much good to slam them with an out-of-context Scripture quote. It doesn’t do much good to say, “the Church teaches” this or that when, for some people, the Church has no authority whatsoever—in their mind. Jesus could have come down in a dramatic display of divine power and proclaimed, “Here I am, the Son of God, obey me and everything will be fine.” But he didn’t.
Instead, he took the time—and still takes the time—to walk with us. He helps us to move from having knowledge to having real wisdom and understanding. And he does that with such patience, with forgiveness, with divine mercy, and yet more patience. And, in that, he gives us an example to follow—both with ourselves and with others.
Jesus is wise enough to know that isn’t enough to simply quote Scripture. It isn’t enough to say to people (and ourselves), “Here’s the truth—just follow it!” It isn’t enough. The Christian faith he gives us demands understanding and wisdom. And the beginning of wisdom is a humble walk with our God; it begins with “fear of the Lord.”
In a nutshell, wisdom demands, above all, a love of God. From that love we can speak to others with wisdom, with understanding of the knowledge we have from Scripture, our Church teachings, and our Tradition. But we can’t do that with that first commandment: Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Above all, love God. Then what we do and what we say . . . will be enough.