By Kristen Upah
As I have grown in my faith, I have learned that all can know God through seemingly simple yet profound ways. One of the greatest ways is through the Scriptures. The Church document Dei Verbum (No. 21) explains that though these sacred works God as the Father is able to speak lovingly to his children and provide the church a foundation and source of spiritual nourishment.
The thought that the great Father would want to reach out to His people in such a fragile way is humbling. If I were God, and praise God I am not, I am unsure if I would even trust such a beautiful source of power in the hands of humans. Approached incorrectly, the Scriptures may be used to cause a lot of damage. As just one of many examples, people used Scripture to justify the institution of slavery in America. With gross misunderstandings as such, I can fathom why the Church discouraged the common person from reading Scripture prior to Vatican II. At the same time, however, I am so grateful that Vatican II has left me and all human beings the authority to study and reflect on the word of God on a daily basis.
In any given week, I come to know God in the Scriptures through multiple settings. One setting is during Mass. I am a frequent participant in daily Mass and highly enjoy following along with the readings of the liturgical calendar. After reading the Scriptures and partaking in Holy Communion, I am called with the rest of the congregation to put what I have learned into action. I take this call very seriously and try to pick out something from the Scriptures or homily each time I go to Mass that I can immediately apply to my life.
Another way I come to know God in the Scriptures is through academic study. God has implanted on my heart a deep desire to know him in this way. I learn a lot about God through the analysis of Scripture and reading about how he has interacted with different cultures throughout time. There is so much to learn that, if nothing else, the Scriptures lead me to understand how God is infinite. Through the comparison of the Synoptic Gospels, I have come to learn how God can be depicted in very different ways, none of which are more or less true. Rather, it is through an understanding of all these that people can come to know God at the richest level. For example, during hard times I am able to more closely connect with God as depicted in Mark through the suffering of Jesus. God as depicted in Luke, on the other hand, moves me to have a deeper love for the poor and reach out my hand to the outcast.
In my continued encounters with God in Scriptures both at daily Mass and in academic study, I anticipate continuing to learn more about him and encounter his love more deeply. I crave with my whole being that God continues to enable this to have a significant impact on my life and the lives of others.
(Kristin Upah is a pre-physical therapy student double majoring in theology and behavioral neuroscience. Originally from Ames, Iowa, she is currently enrolled in her third semester at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)