The Scripture Readings on Sunday mass becomes more meaningful if you have seen the places mentioned and people cited in those readings. After a pilgrimage, you will start to believe and realize the truth about the existence of God and what a blessings the Israelites had, talking and mingling with God in their midst in those places at that time.
I guarantee you beautiful stories of love, marriage and family life you will cherish reading over and over again. The Book of Hosea tells the story of Hosea and Gomer–the unfaithful wife Gomer and Hosea’s constant love to her. He could not give up his wife forever even after being like a harlot. He longed to bring her back to the fresh and pure joy of their first love, a similar story of God’s abounding love for the Israelites, for us.
The Book of Samuel recounts the history of King David. It started with God’s response to the people of Israel who wanted a king to rule and judge their kingdom. From the history of Saul and David’s kingship, there’s an episode about David and Goliath that captivates me. It’s the story from David’s youth, where he won a fight over a Giant because of the big trust he placed in God. The story continues to tell about how God loved and protected David from his youth until his death. There was a deep loyalty of the people towards David, especially of Jonathan who had a profound bond with him much more than he would for his own brother. Saul, the first king of Israel, was jealous over David’s greatness, winning many successful battles for him and admired by the people. Saul became resentful and plotted to kill him. Still David could not harm the Lord’s anointed and overlooked Saul’s dissent; he did not kill him, even when he was delivered into David’s grasp. Saul later died from his own sword.
In later episodes of Samuel, we read King David’s lust for Uriah’s wife (Bathsheba) which led him to send her spouse to be killed in a battle. Confronted for his sins that despite his many blessings, he stole the only blessing this man had, David sorrowfully repented with all his heart and was forgiven. His dynasty continued with the reign of his son Solomon, a king who finds favor from God. He was granted wisdom, riches and glory that no kings ever had. He eventually built a temple to worship God. God promised someone from their line to continue the throne of Israel if they continue to live upright. But Solomon also did evil intermarrying foreign women who turned his heart to strange gods. God gives judgment to people who turn away from him. He punished Solomon and took away his kingdom from his grasp except one. Even though he punished David’s line for their sins, it was not forever; he gave David a lasting dynasty. His line continued and the genealogy of Jesus came from this line as we will see when we read the New Testament.
A literary masterpiece, Job is a story of human experience about a pious, upright and wealthy man who loved God so much. He was living a good life when suddenly his life turned around. God allowed Satan to test his uprightness and he lost everything – his children and thousands of his properties; his whole body afflicted with severe boils. In his sorrow, he was inconsolable no matter what his friends say, who rationalized these events happened because he sinned. Job said God could not let so much punishment if ever he sinned. He wished for his death to end his sufferings. In his dialogue with God, he questioned God’s fairness for allowing him to suffer so terribly. God asked him to trust Him and His judgment, to be strong in his sufferings. Enlightened, he repented and made offerings on behalf of his friends who earlier did not speak rightly about God about his misfortunes. In return God blessed him – with greater prosperity and his loved ones brought back to him.
The story of Jesus is about the Word of God, became flesh–Jesus who dwelt among us. It is about the fulfillment of the prophecies of His birth from the Old Testament in the New Testament. How the people of Israel waited for a Messiah to be their king, to save them from their sufferings. Instead this Messiah came to save so we can all once again be children of God. A community of people, who believed in Him and were baptized, formed His early church. It relayed stories about Jesus – His amazing works and His teachings on God’s love and mercy, His miracles of healing, the multiplication of bread and changing of water to wine, Jesus calming the raging sea waves, raising the dead, making the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, forgiveness of sinners, the apostles witnessing all these events including Jesus’ rising from the dead after being crucified to save us from our sins.