Catholics are always accused of not being familiar with scripture, why is that? One of the main reasons is that Protestants are always challenging us to defend our faith with scripture alone (sola scripture) which is something that we don’t hold to. No where in the bible does it say that the bible is the sole rule of faith.
Scripture certainly is a “standard of truth” (we agree fully with Protestants), even the preeminent one, but not in a sense that rules out the binding authority of authentic apostolic Tradition and the Church. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Catholics agree with Protestants that Scripture is materially sufficient. In other words, every true doctrine can be found in the Bible, if only implicitly and indirectly by deduction. But no biblical passage teaches that Scripture is the formal authority or Rule of Faith for the Christian (formal sufficiency), in isolation from the Church and Apostolic Tradition. Sola Scriptura can’t even be deduced from implicit passages. Protestants try to make that argument, but (with all due respect) I think the effort is doomed to failure.
In all truth Catholics know more scripture then they actually think, in the three year cycle of the church we read almost all of the new testament! So, why are we accused of not knowing scripture? Catholics use scripture as prayer:
Catholics follow a three-year cycle of Scripture reading, so a Catholic who goes to church faithfully will – over those three years – hear almost all of the Bible read. Furthermore, the responses and the words of the Communion service are almost all from Scripture. So a church-going Catholic does know and use Scripture – its just that he uses it primarily for meditation and worship (Psalms 119:48) – not primarily for personal information and instruction. The “prayer book” method is the way Scripture has been used for thousands of years. The Jews recite the Old Testament law in their worship daily. The psalms were the hymn book of the Jews. The New Testament is composed of apostolic letters of instruction read to the churches. The Gospel grew out of the apostles’ preaching about Jesus. In the early Church, they read the letters of the apostles, recited the psalms, and used portions of Scripture to praise and worship God just as Catholics do today. (Ephesians 5:19)
St. Augustine was converted when he heard children singing, “Tolle legge. Take and read! Take and read!” It was the Bible he picked up to read and the saving words of Scripture transformed his life and brought him to a true and constant conversion.
Our individual Catholic lives and the life of our Church would be infinitely improved if more of us took Bible reading seriously. We Catholics need more Bible scholars amongst our pastors. We need more homilies that are rooted in a profound understanding of Scripture. We need more resources for personal Bible reading. We need to understand the Scriptures better to see how our faith is rooted and grounded in the Bible. We need to hear the children singing, “Tolle legge. Take and read! Take and read!”
So, how can we become “more” familiar with scripture this advent season? Starting on December 1 until December 24, read the Gospel of Luke it has twenty four chapters. You will know the whole life of Christ and why he came by Christmas eve. One chapter a day with the family or on your own, and even if you don’t understand every chapter, that’s ok, thats how we learn. You will start looking up commentaries and are able to understand the living word of God.
Meditate with it, pray with, and spread the good news with everyone you know.