'In Layman's Terms,' by Bob Sullivan
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column titled 12 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know. But those were just a few key verses out of many that are helpful in apologetics, and they were only from the New Testament. St. Augustine said, “The New Testament is concealed in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.”
In order to understand our faith and pass the faith along to others, we can keep an eye out for typology as we read the Old Testament. There are a lot of Catholic practices and teachings hidden in the Old Testament, and seeing this can add a lot of richness and depth to your experience of the faith, and to your understanding of the faith.
Typology is when people, events and things in the Old Testament foreshadow (or prefigure) people, events and things in the New Testament. They are not always explicit, but they are very helpful once you recognize them. Think of a sculpture that is only half-finished. In its incomplete state, it hints to the finished work of art, but sometimes it takes a lot of thought and a little imagination to see what it is to become.
So get out your pen or pencil and mark these passages in your Bible. That’s right, you can and should write in your Bible (but not your friend’s Bible, as that could be considered the breaking of a commandment). This way, you personalize your Bible into something you know how to use.
We all navigate differently. You can underline the verses, make notes in the margins and/or add sticky notes in your Bible. Your notes can remind you of something in a homily or in a book, and it can tell you to also look at a corresponding verse somewhere else in the Bible because the footnotes may not tell you to do so.
The fact is, nothing evangelizes our separated brothers and sisters like a Catholic who knows their way around the Bible. A Bible that shows a little wear and tear is a badge of honor among many Christians. I just purchased a brand-new Bible, so mine isn’t tattered and worn, but I did take the time to transfer all of my notes to my new Bible (I’m very thankful for the sticky notes I used in the old Bible). The process has inspired me to write a column which provides some helpful Bible marking tips, so stay tuned for that one.
So if one of our separated brothers or sisters wants to evangelize me, all I need to do is go get my Bible and open it up. They will see that I use my Bible frequently and my own notes will help me flip from passage to passage, explaining the Catholic teaching on numerous topics.
Here are this week’s passages:
Baptism: Exodus 14:19-25 is the parting of the Red Sea which is often recognized as a “type” or prefiguring of baptism (1 Cor 10:2). The Great Flood, the crossing of the Jordan and other events are also seen to have this connection with baptism. The Israelites were saved from physical destruction in the Old Testament, but baptism saves us from eternal destruction.
The Eucharist: In Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek prefigures the Eucharist and the Mass in a way that should remind us of the Last Supper and the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6. “And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.” Many physical elements used throughout the Bible, such as oil, water, fire, grain and smoke. But the most important elements today, the bread and wine, show up in the first book of the Bible and become the central theme at the climax of the New Testament.
Confession: Leviticus 5:16 is one of numerous passages which show a type of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even in the Old Testament, the priests were involved in the forgiveness of sins, although it was not a complete reconciliation until Christ instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation in John 20:21-23. “And you shall make restitution for the holy thing in which you were remiss, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. The priest shall make atonement on your behalf with the ram of the guilt offering, and you shall be forgiven.”
Authority and the Priesthood: Isaiah 22:22 “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Does this remind you of Matthew 16:18-19 and Revelation 3:7? It should, and it certainly reminded the early Christians of the fact that the keys given to Peter, were significant for the Church.
Jeremiah 23:3-4 points to the authority of the pope and the bishops: “Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.”
Maybe this reminds you of the charcoal fire in John 21, when Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. Each time Peter replied, Jesus told Peter to feed his sheep, tend his flock and feed his lambs. That sounds like one of the shepherds foretold in Jeremiah 23, doesn’t it? See also Matthew 18:18, when Christ gave certain authority to the Apostles.