We are a week back into Ordinary Time. Every other year, the first four weeks of Ordinary Time feature readings from the Letter to the Hebrews during weekday masses. Again and again, the author of the letter makes his point by referencing the scriptures, which were for him what we call the Old Testament. In the first chapter alone, five different psalms are cited, plus Deuteronomy and 2 Samuel.
The second chapter begins with the exhortation, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away." (Hebrews 2:1) It is a caution that we are no less needful of hearing today than the Hebrews of 2000 years ago were. Catholics are infamous for not reading their Bibles. Even those that do can easily read the text in a superficial manner, glossing breezily over the knotty passages as if they don’t exist. We tend to have the attitude that the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has already figured all of that stuff out for us, so we don’t really need to bother. That’s true to an extent.
But (you knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?), we’re talking about Divine Revelation here. The scriptures are the record of God’s self-revelation to us. They matter, because it is by studying them and coming to a better understanding of them that we arrive at a better understanding of the divine mind. Ignorance of scripture is similar to ignorance of history. It is only my knowing the mistakes of past generations that we can hope to avoid making those same mistakes.
Even more important is the idea of a divine pedagogy. The events of salvation history were not accidental. They built upon one another until, in the fullness of time, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The New Testament does not exist in isolation from the Old.
There are plenty of false prophets who preach a Christ that is at variance with what is recorded in the Word of God. If we hope to be able to spot the differences, we have to pay more careful attention, lest we drift away from what is authentic.