Archbishop Barry Hickey shares how and why he wrote his second book after a visit to the Holy Land
This is my second published book. My first, Couples Preparing for Marriage, was printed in 1983 and was written mainly for priests looking for hints to help prepare couples for marriage.
Couples themselves also find the book raises many good points for them to think about seriously before and after they marry.
It is still in print after all these years.
This new book Living Biblically was written two years ago when I spent a sabbatical month in Jerusalem.
That month was for me a turning point in my life. I had time to read, think and pray, with no distractions.
I was able to update myself about recent biblical literature. I found in a way I had never experienced before, the depths of Holy Scripture.
Living in the land where Jesus walked brought everything wonderfully alive for me.
But there was another reason why I wrote this book. It was to make a point.
In the early decades after the Second Vatican Council theologians encouraged us to move beyond our Catholic ghetto in order to appreciate humanity’s search for meaning to recognise how much we had in common with universal religious sensibility.
In seeking common ground with the world, we unfortunately gave less attention to the distinctive message of Christianity.
It always seemed to me that this approach to God caused us to lose sight of what we were really about – the person of Jesus Christ and his distinctive and counter-cultural way.
Since the Second Vatican Council there is no doubt that secularism has taken hold, especially in Western countries. It seems to me, that we have no chance of drawing them away from secular values and lifestyles except by introducing them again to Jesus.
A more general “spirituality” cannot withstand the aggressive secularism of today.
The central theme of “Living Biblically” is Jesus, the Christ, Jesus the Messiah.
I offer an essential “key” to understanding the Bible and it is the concept of “Messiah”. The Bible is not two stages of revelation, one through the Jewish people in the Old Testament and the other, in the New Testament through Jesus, as if they had nothing to do with each other.
In the book I ask readers to see the unity of the Old and the New Testaments through Jesus.
Events, rituals, feasts, and personalities in the Old Testament are to be understood as foreshadowing the coming of the Messiah.
It is my hope that the person of Jesus will emerge strongly and clearly from the whole of the Bible, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, and that we will be able to say today, that Jesus is Lord and offer that witness to the world by living the characteristically unique way of life of a follower of Jesus by “living biblically”.
Living Biblically retails for $19.95 plus postage. It can be obtained from The Record or from the Diocesan Office, 21 Victoria Square, Perth (08) 9223 1351. In the light of the recent Synod by Bishops on the Word of God, “Living Biblically” is recommended as the perfect Christmas present.