Thursday, April 24, 2014

Old Testament points to Christ: Thursday of the Octave of Easter

            It is worth remembering that when Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” he was teaching about the Old Testament.  The New Testament hadn’t even been written yet.  Jesus explains, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled…Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
            The Old Testament can get a bad rap.  For instance, those without faith often say something as follows: “How can God destroy a community?  I cannot follow such a God.”  Some groups of Christians often ignore the Old, focusing exclusively on the New.  Admittedly, there are difficult passages in the Old Testament that make even faithful Catholics ask questions which must be approached with wise interpretation.
            Yet St. Augustine maintains, “The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is fulfilled in the New.”  Jesus came, not to abolish the Old, but to fulfill it.  He shows that a proper reading of the Law, prophets and Psalms points directly to himself.
The first part of the Bible does this consistently.  In the third chapter of Genesis, God promises that a son of Adam and Eve would crush the serpent.  The Passover Lamb—on which we focused on Holy Thursday—provided salvation for the Israelites.  Manna from above fed them.  King David led the people to peace and prosperity.  Over and over again we see signs of the coming Messiah.
I encourage you to get to know the Old Testament of the Bible, both at Mass and in your daily prayer.  If you know the Old well the New Testament will be all the more powerful and life giving.

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