“How can I understand unless some one shows me the way?”
Acts 8: 31
“They shall all be taught by God.”
Reading the Bible can be a perilous endeavor, especially if we try to do it alone. It is so easy to bring our own prejudices into our reading and miss what God is trying to tell us.
In today’s first reading, the Ethiopian eunuch is reading the prophet Isaiah when Philip ran up and listened. Philip then asked him if he understood what he was reading.
The lectionary text gives Philip’s answer as “How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
But a better translation is
“How can I unless some one shows me the ways?”
“Instruction” sometimes gets reduced to the teacher telling the student what the text means. But “showing the way” involves the student much more in the process. It recognizes that each student is different and learns differently. In fact, it acknowledges that texts, especially scriptural texts, don’t have one meaning.
They have a depth of meanings – and so the teacher must help lead his fellow learners so that they move to the depths of meaning found there and can steer around the obstacles to learning the living the scriptures.
It is a blessing when we find people – even books – that help us open up the treasures of the bible for us. Some do it by their words, some by their deeds. these teachers are in tune with God, listening to the Wisdom of God in the scriptures, in the Body of Christ which is the Church, in the sacraments and the poor. Some even can come from outside the community and help us to comprehend the scriptures in a richer way.
We need to be open to listen to these voices so that we can, like the Ethiopian eunuch, come to know Christ Jesus and change out lives, listening for the Word of God, Jesus, who instructs us in so many ways.
In this was we can indeed begin to “be taught by God.”