Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
(Acts 13:13-25; John 13:16-20)
Some Catholic biblical professors want to rename the “Old Testament.” For them, “old” gives the impression that the collection of Scriptures is out of date. Protestants have used the term “Hebrew Scriptures,” but for most Catholics this name is inadequate. We recognize writings for the collection that were written in Greek or Aramaic. The Catholic scholars calling for a change recommend that the collection be called the “First Testament.” “First” gives an aura of importance while relaying the truth that the “New Testament” builds upon it. Today’s segment from the Acts of the Apostles demonstrates this truth.
St. Paul demonstrates how the “First Testament” conveys the underpinnings of Christianity. Paul and Barnabas have begun the “First Missionary Journey” in western Asia Minor. Rather than trying to reach the people by preaching at crossroads, they go to synagogues. There they meet not only Jews but also Greeks who have been attracted to Judaism. They show everyone how Jesus fulfills the Jewish Scriptures. In today’s gospel passage Jesus also alludes to the “First Testament.” He shows how it has predicted what is taking place in his great work of salvation.
Sometimes Christians think that there is no need of the “First Testament.” They find the New Testament ample for information and reflection. If this idea were to be realized, we would be shortchanged. The First Scriptures give us a rich understanding of God – His love, mercy, wisdom. Moving from this basis, we can more fully appreciate who Jesus is.