MY FAVORITE book is one that I could pick up and read everyday yet takes me over a year to finish. I've read that book from cover to cover yet it remains an enigma to me. This book teaches me about doing what is right, about love, charity, forgiveness, and keeping my mind on what is pure and noble yet it also keeps a detailed record of pain and suffering, gruesome murders, traitorous deeds, sexual sins, grave injustice and other forms of wickedness.
My favorite book must be everybody's favorite, too, for how does one explain the phenomenon that it is the best-selling book of all time and has been translated into almost every language known to man. Every household has one, most hotel rooms have one, and its passages are printed in the major dailies we read. This bestseller is the Bible. Some scholars of this book say that the word "BIBLE" is an acronym for Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.
My previous impression of the Bible was that of a boring tome foretelling gloom and doom. It had a forbidding presence that I felt it best to leave it to gather dust in a corner. My mother bought a beautiful leather-bound very heavy bible with pages of vibrant renditions of biblical events done by European masters such as Rembrandt, Tintoretto, Michelangelo, Rubens, and Botticelli. It even has pages for filling up your family tree. Since it is a Catholic Bible, it has also included the deuterocanonicals. I was afraid to touch it for decades lest its contents condemn me for my sinful nature. For me, its pages were to be read by the pure of heart, by the prim souls unstained by this world. But I was wrong.
The Bible is a collection of various books by divinely-inspired authors who lived in different eras. They wrote of diverse topics such as courage in the face of adversity as well as being meek and still amidst the storms of life. They wrote of enduring poverty in this world as well as enjoying abundance and immeasurable riches. They wrote the Psalms to sing praises to God as well as the Lamentations to bring their grief before the Lord. It is an action-packed thriller as well as a soothing companion in whom I seek refuge.
The Bible also speaks of child-like obedience and innocence but it also tackles the very adult topic of lust in all its forms including adultery, incest, rape, seduction, prostitution, and homosexuality. The Song of Songs describes the sensual feelings between a woman and her ardent groom. In fact, its verses are made up of graphic, florid lines that can rival present-day romance novels. It is considered the R-rated section of the Bible but in actuality, is an allegory of God's love for His people.
If there's sex in the Bible, violence is not far behind. The Book records the violent, power-grabbing ways of Israel's leaders. The unforgettable Book of Maccabees narrates in detail how a mother is witness to the torture and merciless killing of her seven sons until she herself is put to death. A passage says: At that the king, in a fury, gave orders to have pans and cauldrons heated. While they were being quickly heated, he commanded his executioners to cut out the tongue of the one who had spoken for the others, to scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of his brothers and mother looked on. When he was completely maimed and still breathing, the king ordered them to carry him to the fire and fry him. As a cloud of smoke spread from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die bravely." (2 Macc 7:3-5)
Is the Bible boring? Definitely not. Remember Noah and his adventures through Waterworld? Who could forget Moses' exciting journey through Pharaoh's land? There's Joshua and his men who toppled down the walls of Jericho with trumpet sounds and concerted shouts. And did you know that Balaam's donkey was given the ability to talk? For those who believe that everything that happened in the Bible is true, the adage that truth is stranger than fiction has never been truer. In fact, scientific experiments all support the veracity of the strange happenings therein. Archeological activities have pointed out to the existence of Christ and those in relation to His existence.
Page after page revealed to me a God who is loving yet jealous, whose mercy is endless yet in His anger is capable of striking down the disobedient by the thousands. Most of all, I discovered a God who is not the aloof and impersonal figure most of us think him to be but an entity who is interested in every detail of our lives and cares personally and deeply for me that He only wants the best for me. In fact, He allowed His only son to suffer as a man and die on the cross so that I may have eternal life.