On the week before my encounter with the Holy Spirit, I picked up a King James Bible, very straightforward, no notations nor footnotes, and turned to Song of Songs. The first chapter immediately troubled me, because there I read “do not stare at me because I am swarthy.” Moving on, I read “I have taken off my robe, am I then to put it on? I have bathed my feet, am I then to soil them? My lover put his hands through the opening, my heart trembled within, and I grew faint when he spoke.” My eyes seem to be picking up all these sexual innuendoes. “Now let your breasts be like clusters of the vine…”
I slammed the Bible shut. What in the world…? Is the Song of Songs a study in Erotica 101? Why did the publishers put these here? Are these really words from God? I was so perplexed and troubled and mentioned this to the first person in my prayer group. She too did not know; she has not read Song of Songs. As newly minted Christians we were traveling through this unknown world together, hoping to find solace in the Word, looking for a validation that what we were going through was what Jesus required.
I had trouble understanding the word “Word”. Why was Jesus called “Word”? What did God exactly say when Jesus was made incarnate? Did God say to Him as He said to Adam and Eve, “Go and multiply”? Did God say to Him “From now on your name is “Word”? I asked our parish priest, an old Dutch man, what the real deal was. He did not know.
I had so many questions that needed answers. Why was Jesus called “bridegroom”? What is the meaning of “righteousness”? Why does Jesus seem like a commanding presence sometimes, as when He ordered the tumultuous seas to calm down, and then seem like a whiner and inarticulate on other times, as in “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” I asked, “He is the Son of God, why can’t He find a resting place?”
There had been occasions when I would read a paragraph in the Bible four or five times because it seemed like the words were as dry as toast and I would immediately forget what I was reading. And yet I could not be accused of not paying attention. In my frustrations and with sincerity in my heart to know the word of God, I would pray and ask for guidance, and yet clarity took a long time in coming.
All of these changed after I received my Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Suddenly the Bible became attractive and understandable for me. I could not put it down. For two years I read the Bible and wept. Every verse became significant and a revelation. I brought and read the Bible everywhere, always armed with Kleenex tissues, because reading the scriptural verses made my lachrymal glands over active. I did not understand why I was weeping. It was joyful weeping, without emotional or spiritual pain. I was told that this was a phenomenon experienced by many who had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was as if the Holy Spirit was in a hurry for me to catch up, as if He was telling me as He told Elijah, “Eat the Scroll!”
Those who are steep in the Word must not dismiss what the unbaptized in the Holy Spirit have to struggle through by saying “The Bible is easy to understand.” It is not easy to understand. As the unbaptized read it, the evil spirit of confusion surround them, trying to deceive them from the message of spiritual inheritance. It has caused division, discord and confusion among Christians all over the world. Its interpretation has caused the Great Schism and the offshoot of several sects and religions. Because the Bible is a personal message, a personal letter to us, interpretations of the message vary in every receiver. Everybody reacts to the Bible differently. It is the Word of God and it takes the presence of the Holy Spirit to make it clear for us.
If today, I, who have experienced the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit to fall in love with the Bible, still have to read some scriptural verses once or twice in order to “get it”, how much more do you think the unbaptized go through just to get it?
This is why many homes have Bibles, fine gold leafed pages, been in the family for ages, and yet still looking as new as the day it was bought. We can display the Bible on our study or the living room’s coffee table, but unless the Lord touches the heart of a person, that Bible will remain unread. But it will never ever be read if it is not openly displayed in our house.
Do not buy just any Bible. Get the ones with big prints, footnotes, annotations and concordance. You do not want to miss any revelation by squinting at small prints. I find the New American Bible (NAB) very helpful, very well studied, and the footnotes very clear. When it comes to cross-referencing, the NAB is superb in its wealth of information. First released in July 1970, it was produced by the Catholic Biblical Association of America under the patronage of the Bishops’ Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Even non Catholic pastors sound good when they quote from the cross-referenced information, calling these “personal revelations”. That’s just fine.
We who have been called, we who have the Holy Spirit in us, can invoke the Divine Paraclete to impart the same gifts of clarity and love for the Bible to members of our family. The Lord said that the whole house will eventually submit even if only one was called. This should be our prayer for our family. Even the Song of Songs will make sense.