I enjoy doing literacy work with people whose first language is not English. A challenge of learning English is that many of our words have multiple meanings, and many words and phrases are not meant to be understood literally. English speaks in metaphors, figures of speech, proverbs, hyperbole, idioms. Liturgical and biblical language is much the same. In this Sunday’s readings, we hear that Jesus is the Way (to the Father), that we are to be “living stones,” and be built into a “spiritual house,” so that we can offer “spiritual sacrifices” and live in “light” instead of “darkness.” Like us, the apostles in the Gospel are frustrated. Why doesn’t Jesus speak more clearly? “Master, we don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” and “Master, show us the Father,” instead of just talking about Him, they say. An advantage of language that is not so precise is that it can be interpreted by believers living in many different times, histories and cultures. Thus our Scriptures have nourished believers for two millennia. But nonliteral biblical and liturgical language does challenge each of us. After we consider the time and history when our biblical texts were written, and what original meaning was intended by the author, our interpretation job begins. We need to figure out its meaning for our own lives and situations. Perhaps a good homily helps with that, but really, it’s our job. This week let’s choose one of the images — living stones, spiritual house, light, darkness, the way, spiritual sacrifice — and let it be in our minds and hearts as we search for its meaning for our spiritual lives.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia