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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

17 February 2016: Tim Concannon, Parishioner St Laurence Catholic Church

The use of Scripture

Lent is traditionally a time for taking stock of our spiritual lives and considering how we can make them better. The Greek word that we usually translate as “repentance” actually means “afterthought” or a “change of mind on reflection”.

I have been reflecting on Scripture. In 2 Timothy 3:16,17 St Paul writes, “All Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for instruction in righteousness” (which really means the rearing or bringing up a child ) “so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.”

In the past (and sadly, even today) terrible things are being done in the name of Scripture. Instructions to loot cities, kill or enslave their inhabitants, to stone adulterers and kill gay people are all found in the Old Testament as well as in the Qur’an.

We have to remember that, although God speaks to us in Scripture, He does it through human writers who are the products of their time and class. If we want to see exactly what the message in any particular Scripture is, we have to look at the words in context, not only of the time and place they were written, but also of the contemporary style of speaking and writing.

For example, St Paul makes several mentions of athletics, which were very popular in the Graeco-Roman world. He makes the point that winning a prize requires discipline and self-control. When he likens himself to a boxer and not just someone punching the air, (1Cor9:26), it gives a lovely picture of an athlete training for the big prize.

So it is a reminder, that this season of Lent is a period of training, for the joys of Easter to come.

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