Sacred Scripture was written thousands of years ago in languages and cultures very different than our own; yet, God’s word still speaks to us today. Whenever we take the time to prayerfully read scripture, we get to know Christ more fully.
These are some verses that I meditate on regularly and they help form the foundation of my Catholic faith.
1. Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:38a
We are called to serve the Lord in everything we do. This means saying yes to opportunities to do serve the poor, share faith in Christ, help others, and grow individually.This scripture gives me the motivation to get involved in my community and to serve others. Meditating on Mary’s openness to God’s will and His call in her life brings into perspective that my life is not about me or the things of this world; rather it’s about serving my creator and sharing eternal life with him.
2. His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” – John 2:5
Whenever we’re unsure or need guidance in life, the answer can be found in asking Jesus for His direction and doing what He tells you.
It’s important that we’re honest with ourselves and we’re not simply substituting our own will for the voice of Jesus. But if we pray fervently and sincerely, the Holy Spirit will help us discern. It’s up to us to do whatever the Lord asks. If we do, miracles just might happen…
3. See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. – James 2:24
It’s not an accident that the only time the phrase “faith alone” appears in the Bible is when Scripture says we are not saved by faith alone.What we do matters. Salvation is not a one-time event when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Believing is a verb and true faith takes action and lasts a lifetime.
James 2 is not at all ambiguous on this matter. “Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Verse 17). “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (Verse 14)
As Catholics, there is no conflict between Romans and James. It’s not an “either/or”, but a “both and.” We are saved by God’s grace through baptism AND faith AND works.
4. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. – Matthew 16:18-19
If Christ himself founded a Church, wouldn’t you want to be a part of that Church no matter what it cost? Then you owe it to yourself to honestly and fairly investigate the claims of the Catholic Church.While there is debate on this verse and the Papacy, after investigating the historical evidence and Scripture, I have no doubt Christ founded a Church and gave his disciple Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
This is obviously a visible church (neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel) – one to which Christ delegates authority and responsibility – to bind and loose, to forgive sins, and to baptize all the nations in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit.
Remember, our Lord said the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, so that Church must still be spreading the word of God. So, where is this visible Church today?
Only one Church can trace their history back to the time of Christ himself – that Church is the Catholic Church.
5. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. – 1 Timothy 3:15
If you ask most Christians what the pillar and foundation of truth is, most would probably answer either Christ or the Bible; but Christ is not the pillar and foundation of truth – He is the way, the truth, and the life – and Sacred Scripture itself identifies the Church as the pillar and foundation of truth.
A pillar is something that holds something up. Clearly, Paul is not talking about an invisible body of believers as the pillar and foundation of truth. He is talking about a visible Church – the very Church that Christ founded in Matthew 16 and declared that the gates of hell would never prevail against.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church holds up the truth by safeguarding the deposit of faith, preventing heresies, and sharing Christ’s love with all, especially the poor.
6. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 11:27
John Chapter 6 is very clear that the Eucharist is not just a symbol, but it is actually the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. But even more convincing is 1 Corinthians 11:27.If Communion bread and wine were just that – a symbol – why would participating make one guilty of the body and blood of our savior?
This is why the early church for the first 16 centuries was united on this matter and the Eucharist was the center of the Christian faith. Curious about the Eucharist? – begin to read some of the Church fathers here.
7. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. – Genesis 19:26
Whenever I’m frustrated because something didn’t go my way, I’ve made a bad decision, or I start to experience regret, I remember the past cannot be changed.Christ has a beautiful plan for my future and He has a beautiful plan for your future too. Don’t look back at the past with regret, frustration or shame. Don’t hold grudges or take revenge.
If we constantly are looking back critically at ourselves and others, we build up anger, resentment, and sadness. We prevent progress and bring about self-inflicted wounds. In effect, we turn ourselves into a pillar of salt.
When we forgive ourselves and forgive others, we free ourselves from our disappointments. We look forward and allow ourselves to do what God is calling us to do.
8. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:12
Nowhere does Scripture say there is a separate Body of Christ on earth and a separate Body of Christ in Heaven. The Body of Christ is not divided; rather it is one.
The people of God who came before us love us and through the power and mercy of God are aware of the struggles and joys in our life. Indeed, Sacred Scripture tells us that the faithful that preceded us are rooting for us in our lifelong journey to holiness
Hebrews 12:1-2 reads, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.”
Our heavenly family members, who have been made perfect as our heavenly father is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and who are clean (Revelation 21:27) and blameless before the Lord, can pray for us if we ask them. And since they have attained holiness in heaven and are spending eternity in Heaven with God, their prayer is very powerful (James 5:16).
My personal relationship with Jesus is the core of my faith. But as my intimacy with Christ grew, He introduced me to His family. And in venerating his family and asking for their intercession, they point me closer to Christ, reveal the Lord to me on a deeper level, and help me grow in intimacy with Him.
9. It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 4:3-4
Stop judging other people – you don’t know their eternal destiny and neither do I. You can’t even be 100% certain about your own destiny. We can have confident assurance and trust in the Lord God. But as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, “the one who judges me is the Lord.”
Only God knows the hearts of men. He will be able to determine who truly repented. Even someone who regularly commits the most egregious sins – how can you know their heart in the final moments of their life?
We also need to stop caring about what other people thing. Are others condemning you? Only care about what God thinks. God will ask you to change some things, but the fact is Jesus Christ wants to meet you in your spiritual life wherever you are and take you further.
Don’t worry if others will judge you and don’t let that keep you from seeking Jesus and His Church. There is no sin you have committed that God cannot redeem. His mercy is infinite and his love is tender.
Also don’t worry if others mock you or call you rigid for obeying God. All the popularity and wealth in this world can’t compare to the treasures God has for you in heaven. Come home to the Church.
10. When Jesus saw his mother– and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. – John 19:26-27
Mary matters. There is so much to say about the Blessed Mother, but this is the verse that caused me to look deeper into Mary’s role in my spirituality.
Think about it – when Christ was on the cross, one of the seven final things he said was to give His own mother to His disciple whom He loved. Today, we are all called to be disciples loved by Jesus and He gives us His mother as well.
After understanding that truth, then the knowledge of the faith grew…
For example, people have often asked me – why would I go through Mary when I can go directly to God? Of course, Catholics can and do go directly to God with prayer, but did you ever stop and think for a second that God himself chose to come to us through the Blessed Virgin Mary? Why would we not imitate Christ as one form of prayer? Did you consider that Jesus as a devout Jew followed the commandment to honor His Mother and father? Why would we not venerate His mother in imitation of Him?
Later study would help me identify the richness of Scripture regarding Mary – including Mary as the ark of the new covenant, the New Eve, and the queen of heaven and earth. I would see Mary bring God to her relative and intercede and ask for Jesus to perform his first miracle at Cana.
Suffice it to say there is a lot to learn about Mary and it all points toward her son Jesus.
11. Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.” – Luke 9:49-50
Working in conservative politics, I have many friends who are pastors of various protestant denominations and who serve the Lord with all their heart. I am blessed to be married to an Evangelical woman strong in her faith and in love with the Lord and regularly attend evangelical services in addition to the Mass.
While I believe that the fullness of the Christian faith is found in the Catholic Church, my protestant brothers and sisters are part of Christ’s Church. While I do wish for all the joy of Eucharist, the grace of the sacraments, and the warmth of the communion of Saints in God’s family, our denominational differences take a backseat to our common mission of fighting against evil, serving the less fortunate, sharing Christ with others, and protecting the unborn.
Being a Catholic is a free choice. I can only give my testimony to my fellow Christians that there is no greater joy than that of fully embracing an authentic Catholic faith.
A note regarding marriages between Protestants and Catholics: Do not let anyone tell you that you are “unequally yoked.” Use of 2 Corinthians 6:14 in this manner is a twisting of Sacred Scripture. The Scripture reads, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Neither Protestants nor Catholics qualify as unbelievers. Luke 9:49-50 is the heart of God for couples working through these differences.
12. And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40
Mother Theresa said of the suffering she witnessed: “Each one was Jesus in a distressing disguise.” That phrase has stuck with me.
When we serve the poor, the neglected, the rejected, the lonely, the sick, and the imprisoned, we serve Jesus Christ himself. Soup kitchens, prison ministries, mentoring programs, food banks, clothing donations, and more are all opportunities to serve the Lord.
13. How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye. – Matthew 7:4-5
Every time I get frustrated with someone or in a dispute with someone I ask myself this one question: “What did I do to contribute to this situation?”
In almost every misunderstanding or disagreement, neither side is 100% wrong. In life, you can’t change other people, but you can fix yourself. Meditating on this verse helps me examine my conscience, become a better Christian, and be in communion with my brothers and sisters.
14. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her. – Ephesians 5:25
During the rehearsal dinner before our wedding, I gave my wife a cross saying that marriage was a ministry and this gift symbolizes the rock on which our union is built.
Marriage is indeed a ministry and as a husband I’m called to be patient, loving, respectful, kind, committed and caring. Marriage lived properly is a sacrificial vocation and a constant giving of oneself to the other.
This verse is a high command and a tall order, but it’s important to know God’s standard and not water it down. While every spouse – myself included – is selfish at times, this verse is a reminder of what we are called to do – be Christ to our spouse. Meditating on this verse is also a great reminder during those times I am prideful in marriage, that I can always love my spouse more.
How many spouses today are ready to give up when the going gets tough? Or just because they want a change? Or because of selfish lustful actions? How many spouses only think of their needs or only the children’s needs? Invest in your marriage – make it the primary human relationship in your life – and it will be a life-giving ministry that allows you to experience Christ.
15. “The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. – Acts 8:29-31
The Bible is not perspicuous. Sacred Scripture needs an infallible interpreter to prevent us from making God into our own image and reading scripture in terms of our own biases, native language, or culture.
This is why our Lord, who says he will never leave us or forsake us, founded a church (Matthew 16:18), which is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).
16. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. – Matthew 23:12
Money is not the root of all evil; love of money is the root of all evil. The same could be said of success, power, status, and material goods.
What motivates you in life? Is it the things of this world or is it serving God and serving others? If pride and a love of things of things of this world are an especially big struggle, considering praying and meditating on the litany of humility.