Knowing the Bible in depth involves getting into the scenes.
One foot in front of the other on the gray stone of the streets of Jerusalem. Thus began Cleophas and his friend the way 160 stadia (30 km) that would take them back to their village. It was very early, the first day of the week and the walk would last until sunset, but mostly it was made costly by the weight on the heart. In silence they crossed the streets and left behind the City of David and Herod's Palace. The friend of Cleopas was desolate and in his head the emotions of the last few days over the crucifixion of the master, and the broken illusions of the last three years. Above all: the fear of never seeing Jesus again. They were returning to their village, to the bland comfort of their home, but without Him.
The road left the Holy City and descended westward through the hills of Judea, under a sun that did not quite shine as it usually does in the Holy Land. They had been going for a few hours now and were asking each other what kind of life they would lead now that Jesus was dead and buried. Without realizing it, they have caught up with another traveler on the same road. Neither Cleophas nor his friend is in a sociable mood, but the Wayfarer exudes an air of elegance and simplicity, as if familiar. And there is something in his voice that tugs at their heartstrings.
They talk about the subject that hurts them the most: the Messiah and the frustration of having lost him. The Wayfarer then speaks to them from the Scriptures. But not like the scribes and Pharisees, but as one who has authority, as someone who is telling you his story. Cleopas and his friend listen to the story that the Wayfarer tells them as one who listens to his own life, and their hearts begin to burn... Then, when evening comes, arriving at their village, Emmaus, in the breaking of the bread, they recognize Jesus, and they recognize themselves, as disciples of the risen Messiah. They run, they almost fly, back to the Cenacle, because the emotion does not fit in their chest, and they need to tell it to the four winds.
The scene of the disciples of Emmaus is repeated in the life of every person. On many occasions we are faced with the prospect of a monotonous life, without great prospects. It is then that the encounter with Jesus takes us out of the gray scenario. In the Scriptures, or in the Holy Land (the Fifth Gospel), Jesus is the one who encounters us.
To live the Scriptures as one of the characters was always one of the counsels of St. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of the Opus Dei. The problem is that, for many, the pages of the Bible are presented as something distant, obscure or irrelevant. This can be especially true of the Old Testament, where we find some of the most difficult passages to understand. But also the New Testament presents us with a "disturbing question" when narrating the violent death of the Son of God.
Before its release in 2003, Mel Gibson's film "The Passion" had already raised a whirlwind of criticism. Leaving aside the more ideological and media aspects of the discussion, the main accusations against the feature film about the last earthly hours of Christ centered on its excessive violence. IMDB placed it among the films recommended for those over 18 (with a 10/10 "Violence & Gore" rating) and the MPAA assigned it an "R" rating, i.e., "restricted audience" for the same reason.
This "disturbing question" we were talking about ran through the media and public debate. Beyond the film itself, there arose, as so often before, the question of violence in religion (Sacks, 2015).
Other historical circumstances converged to make the question sound pressing. For example, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 served in some forums as an incentive to criticize the "strong" or "dogmatic" values of monotheistic religions (Rorty-Vattimo, 2005).
As Girard comments, in this case terrorism has hijacked religious codes for its own end. But the question remains: does religion demand violence? The message of salvation that Christ made present cannot be separated from the Cross, God the Father "did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all" (Rom 8:2). As can be seen, this affirmation continues to be a cause of scandal for many today: is not the Christian God an Almighty God? Is he not the God of all mercy (Ps 59:18)? Why then so much violence? Violence is a category that runs through the New Testament and, with greater intensity, through the Old Testament. The question that Christians hear today could be posed as follows: Is the God of the Bible violent?
This is a topic that current Christian theology has confronted from very diverse perspectives, which coincide in facing the presence in Sacred Scripture of what Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Exhortation "Verbum Domini", called "dark pages of the Bible". Relatively often the Bible "narrates facts and customs such as, for example, fraudulent schemes, acts of violence, extermination of populations, without explicitly denouncing their immorality". What should be the reaction of today's Christian when encountering such passages?
Indeed, we Christians should "always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope" (cf. 1Pt. 3:15), which leads us to take this "disturbing question" as an incentive to deepen our knowledge of God. But our knowledge "needs to be enlightened by God's revelation" (Catechism of the Church, 38). It is therefore a matter of seeing in what way God has made himself known, that is, how God wants us to understand these "disturbing questions" (Catechism of the Church, 38). dark pages.
It is for this reason that the study of the Bible is presented to us as an essential element in the deepening of Christian life. At the same time, the Christian roots of Europe, and of a large part of today's culture, call for a systematic, scientific and profound knowledge of the Bible, which is the most important element for the deepening of Christian life. best-seller of History, the first work to be reproduced and printed, both in time and quantity.