By Charles Johnston:
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
We receive our initial graces through the sacrament of baptism, and it is strengthened through the Sacrament of Confirmation. These graces are fed and grow the same way our physical bodies grow, through feeding them, and the food we feed them is the Divine Word, both in the form of the Eucharist and the scriptures. ( see my post Dei Verbum )
Staying close to God and receiving the sacraments are ways in which to “grow in grace”, but what about growing in knowledge? Some of the same ways we grow in grace will help us grow in knowledge of Jesus.
One of the best ways to grow in knowledge of Christ is to read His words in the Gospels, and to pray and ask Him to reveal Himself more fully to you. Join a Bible study group at your parish, or if you don’t have one, then start a Bible study group at your parish. Pick up an in depth study guide for one of the Gospels and learn the context of the stories in which Jesus is presented. Learn about the circumstances surrounding some of His sayings and some of the miracles He performed and you’ll have a better understanding of what Jesus is trying to tell you through the Scriptures.
The Church teaches us that Sacred Scripture has four senses that can be derived from a specific passage. They are the literal and the spiritual senses, the spiritual being broken down into three others, the allegorical, moral and analogical senses. If we can understand and better study scriptures in light of this teaching, then we will grow in knowledge of the One about whom all scripture leads. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 115-119 for more in depth explanation)
Through all this, we must remember that the key word we must focus on here is “grow.” Because it’s one thing to learn a fact, it’s another to allow that newfound fact to grow. Many times faith is compared to seeds and young plants in the Bible, we see it in the parables of the mustard seed, the sower, the vineyard, even Jesus calls Himself “The Vine.”
It’s very important to see what is being said here; in plants there is either growth or death. A plant that does not grow is dead, there is no such thing as stagnation in the life of a plant. Jesus himself says that a vine branch that doesn’t bear fruit (no growth) will be cut off and cast into the fires.
Bob Dylan once sang “he not busy being born is busy dying”, and that’s kind of a paraphrase of the quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas “if a Christian is not growing he is dead. There is no stagnation in Christ.”
This is a constant journey that we embark on the day of our baptism, that we are strengthened on the day of our confirmation, and that we are nourished every Sunday at the table of the Lord. If the church is the bride and Christ the bridegroom, then let us strive to get to know our divine spouse all the more, because the more we know Christ the more we can love Him. Saint Thomas Aquinas said “love follows knowledge,” the more we seek after God the more He will reveal. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” (Prov 8:17)
May we all seek Christ more each day, and sincerely pray this prayer of Saint Thomas Aquinas; “Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.”
(This post originally appeared at Catholic365.com )