Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 467 (10/11/10). Galatians 4:22-24.26-27-5:1. Psalm
113: 1-2,3-45,5.6-7. Luke 11:29-32.
Allegorical interpretation is used within the gospels as well as in the
direct interpretations that Paul gives to certain parts of the Hebrew
Scriptures. As a method, it stems from Alexandria in Egypt and Philo, a
Jewish sage, is the one who perfected it. He is contemporaneous with Paul
and there could have been some knowledge about his works in Alexandria.
Our first reading is a good example of allegorical interpretation where
Paul uses the two sons of Abraham as symbols for the covenant God makes
with us. Paul separates the first covenant from that of the second and thus
is showing his departure from the observances of the Mosaic Law. We learn
from his allegory of the great blessing of freedom that is enjoyed when we
enter fully into a covenant with God. This is possible for both Judaism
and Christianity as well as Islam. Today we have learned that some of the
cultural bias of the past even in the Scriptures has to be better presented
and interpreted in a way that respects the other great religions who share
much of the covenant made with Abraham.
Salvation history goes on despite our own limitations in understanding how
this is possible in a world so troubled with wars, hunger, illness, and
lack of a homeland. Today in reading our sacred and inspired writings we
are more interested in the narrative and rhetorical modes of
interpretation, but we should learn from what is also the allegorical
interpretation done to some of the parables as well as several such
interpretations in Paul’s letters. Origen and probably Philo realized that
some scripture is so prosaic and even boring that only through using the
allegorical method could they obtain a hidden spiritual meaning from the
Normally, most people ponder over the scriptures in the light of their own
needs and their own experiences. This is a good method for helping us to
appreciate the selections given in the gospels and epistles. When done
quietly and with wisdom we name this method lectio divina or a spiritual
type reading of the texts. We learn from Jesus that he is using the little
creative work entitled Jonah to make his point about the need for continual
ongoing conversion of our hearts. Thus both Genesis and the prophetic
voice of Jonah are being interpreted allegorically by those who were
divinely inspired and influenced by their own experinces of the scriptures.
Knowledge of the Scriptures is knowledge of Christ (St. Jerome tells us
this). And ignorance of them is ignorance of Christ.
Salvation history is a part of every person born into this world for they
were made in the image and likeness of God. We all need to realize our
dignity and to thank the Lord God for creating and redeeming us in ways
that we are not even aware of. Our sacraments and our sacred feasts help
us to appreciate who we are called to be. And a spiritual reading of the
Scriptures helps us all to be closer to God while seeing many of our own
experiences are found withing the sacred texts. Seek and you will find.