Article: The Bible is such a great book for Ireland

Newry Cathedral News

In Grinan near the crossroads there is a lake aptly referred to as Grinan Lake. It has been the subject of a story which has been handed down through generations about a couple who after they had been refused marriage drowned in the waters of the lake. The water level rose to cover the castle which was situated there.

Apparently, the next day, 2 swans appeared and they and their ancestors have continued to raise their families on the lake since. Locals say that sometimes after a drought you can see the shadow of the castle beneath the waters. I have never been lucky enough to see the castle but I remembered the story this week on seeing the two swans gracefully making their way across the lake. Their presence is testament to love prevailing in spite of hardship and of good triumphing over evil.

It also struck me how much how on this island of Ireland we love a great story being told again and again and how the Bible stories with their moral message should take a greater place in our oral tradition. Take the story of David and Goliath which is one of the most celebrated tales from the Old Testament. David, as a young boy, kills the giant Goliath. The story is an inspiring example of how the brave underdog triumphed against a much stronger opponent. 1 Samuel 17:40, ‘And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine’.

One of my favourite stories is the ‘Raising of Lazarus’. It is one of the miracles performed by Jesus. Like the miracle of turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana, the raising of Lazarus is mentioned only in the Gospel of John. In the miracle, Jesus raises Lazarus of Bethany from the dead four days after Lazarus had been entombed. It also shows the human side of Jesus as he wept at the loss of his friend.

Jesus’ raising of Lazarus mirrors his own triumph over death through his resurrection, three days after the Crucifixion. In the story of Lazarus, Jesus speaks one of the most powerful messages ever: ‘Whoever believes in Jesus Christ, receives spiritual life that even physical death can never take away’. Jesus also raised Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:41-42; Luke 8:52-56) and a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-15) from dead.

All these stories are available both in illustrated children’s versions of the Bible as well as in the Bible itself in the Veritas Bookshop on the Mall. As parents and grandparents or close relatives we need to hand the faith on by making sure the stories of the Old and New Testament get handed down from generation to generation. This is our faith and part of our Christian Heritage.