Monday, August 02, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 17-19.

Today's reading gives us the image of the potter at his wheel. God has called his people to repent; promised them that it is not too late to turn back the punishment that they are creating for themselves. But will they receive the message God is sending them through his faithful prophet?

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 14-16 and (because it is Sunday) Psalm 111 and 112.

Jeremiah struggles to convince the people of their sins because false prophets keep assuaging their guilty consciences. God offers a psalm that will allow the people to confess their sins and beg for mercy. With its penitential character, it is included in the Liturgy of the Hours on a Friday (in Week Three of the Psalter).

In Chapter 16 we read God's specific command, unique in the Old Testament, that Jeremiah not marry. He is not to raise a family, even though, since he is a priest, this means fewer future ministers at the altar of the great Temple. Jeremiah's own life has become a prophecy of the nation and of the city (and of the Temple). 

Psalms 111 and 112 are a beautifully and carefully matched set of alphabet psalms with key words and phrases paired across both. They begin with the same words: Praise the Lord! and verse 3b is identical, too: his righteousness endures forever.  Psalm 111 especially contemplates the works of the Lord, and Psalm 112 considers the fruits of that contemplation in the life of the person who "fears the Lord." Even the expression "fear the Lord" is carried over from the very end of Psalm 111 to the first verse of Psalm 112, to make sure we get the connection between the two. 

Start reading Jeremiah here and the Psalms here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 11-13. 

Jeremiah's life is at stake on account of his forthright preaching. In this, he begins to become a prophetic foreshadowing of Jesus himself. In fact, Jeremiah 11:18-20 is the first reading for Mass on Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent, paired with a Gospel about the results of a failed attempt by the Temple authorities to arrest Jesus.

After this, we start to see prophetic signs from Jeremiah. God is adding to his repertoire actions and events that are designed to make people ask questions and think long and hard about what is at hand.

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 8-10. 

In the midst of his warnings, Jeremiah introduces another note that will be taken up by Paul: that of "boasting of the Lord" (see 1 Corinthians 1:31; 3:21). Certainly, what he sees people do leads Jeremiah only to mourn: "Is there no balm in Gilead?" (Her 8:22) The lovely spiritual assures us that there is:

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 5-7. 

Jeremiah will get into trouble with the local authorities for his honesty, but (unlike the false prophets) he is not preaching to gain approval from his hearers: He is trying to steer them away from their habitual injustice and compromise! Not even God can prevent judgment from falling down upon the entire nation; it is practically imploding: "There is nothing but oppression within her...violence and destruction resound in her." And still the false prophets preach soothingly, "'Peace, Peace,' though there is no peace" (6:14).

All of this leads up to the famous "Temple Sermon" of Chapter 7. Sent to the holiest place on earth, Jeremiah is told to speak in the very name of God: Do not deceive, cheat, betray, oppress the helpless, or adore false gods and think that a few ritual acts will make it all good. Do not count on this holy place to wipe out all the injustice. When Jesus "cleansed the Temple" (Matthew 21:12-17) he cited Jeremiah 7:11: "you have made [this house of prayer] a den of robbers." Of course, Jesus was giving us the new and definitive Temple: his own Body, the true dwelling place of God among people.

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Jeremiah 2-4. 

Jeremiah's opening message relies on the marriage imagery we found a few days ago in Isaiah. God speaks as a betrayed husband would, yet still calls out to his people, "Return to me!" This "return" takes the form of interior repentance not ritual behaviors. Jeremiah uses the graphic language of circumcision; Paul will cite this and develop it with his customary panache (see Romans 2: 25-29, especially verse 29; Galatians 5:6, 11-12 [!!!!] and 6:15).

Once the people will acknowledge their many sins of apostasy, God will restore them to their land, and draw the Gentiles, too, to Jerusalem. It is another picture of the "New Jerusalem"!

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Isaiah 65-66 and Jeremiah 1.

Isaiah describes the restored Jerusalem (Zion) in terms that cannot fail to move us almost 3,000 years later:

See, I am creating new heavens

and a new earth;

....

I will rejoice in Jerusalem

and exult in my people.

No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there,

or the sound of crying.

No longer shall there be in it

an infant who lives but a few days,

nor anyone who does not live a full lifetime….

Is 65:17, 19-20

But this Jerusalem Isaiah pictures for us is so magnificent that we begin to grasp that he is not just speaking about a rebuilt city restored after the dreadful Exile: Ultimately, this is a prophecy of the New Jerusalem:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them [as their God]. 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away.”

Rev 21:1-4

It is with a promise of a "new heavens and new earth" (66:17, 22) that the great Book of the Prophet Isaiah ends, and we begin the next prophetic book: that of Jeremiah. We know a bit about Jeremiah as a person and not simply as a prophet. Not only are his writings often deeply personal, his life itself became part of his prophetic message to Israel at the crucial time of the Exile. 

In the first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, we read of how the call of God came to a young (very young, since still unmarried) man of a priestly family during the reign of the reformer-king Josiah.

Start reading Isaiah here and the first chapter of Jeremiah here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Isaiah 62-64.

We have come across marriage imagery in the Bible before, especially in the Song of Songs and in Psalm 45, and in references to apostasy as "adultery." It is in the prophets that the marriage metaphor really comes into high relief. Through Isaiah, God refers to the Chosen People as his bride, and himself as bridegroom. The Covenant (to which God remains faithful) is revealed as a marriage bond.

Following on an acknowledgment of the people's unfaithfulness in the form of a lament, Chapter 64 begs for the Lord's intervention. A selection from Chapter 63 and the first part of Chapter 64 form the first reading on the First Sunday of Advent (Year B cycle). I think you will be able to see why when you read it!

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Isaiah 59-61 and (because it is Sunday), Psalms 109 and 110.

We could read Chapter 59 in the light of the encouragement that came before it: with so much goodness, and so many promises, do not yield to moral compromise! God has even greater gifts to bestow than those already described. Indeed, Chapter 60 can almost be read as a lead-up to the words that Jesus will stand up in the synagogue at Nazareth to read for the Sabbath. And the first words of his homily that day were, "Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing" (see Luke 4:21).

Psalm 109 is one of the "cursing" psalms, considered so contrary to modern sensibilities that it does not even appear in the current Liturgy of the Hours. In form, it is a lament. The afflicted person, in a kind of courtroom setting, asks that the curses and injustices being inflicted upon him might recoil on his adversaries. One thing about the Psalms is their emotional honesty: There is no false courtesy before God, no hiding of feelings that might be ugly or inappropriate. In this, the Psalms are a model for our prayer.

Psalm 110 is one of the most important of the royal messianic Psalms. Jesus himself will cite it (Mt 22:41-45) to point out that David (the "author" of the Psalms) here calls the Messiah his "Lord." This clearly means that the Messiah, "David's Son," is David's superior! This Lord, "begotten before the Daystar," is also "high priest according to the order of Melchizedek."

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! I'm reading the Bible clear through this year, and I invite you to read along with me. But first, let us pray: 

Everlasting Father,

All time belongs to you, and all the ages. In signs, in songs, in words of promise, you reassured your chosen ones, “I am with you; fear not.” You taught them through the prophets to trust that your saving deeds were not limited to the past.

When Jesus came, he fulfilled “all that was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms.”

The Church has found him everywhere in these same holy books.

Help me to find Jesus in my reading today, to listen to him, and to follow him with all my heart.

Amen.

Today's chapters are Isaiah 56-58.

Once the Suffering Servant has achieved reconciliation between God and humanity, there seem to be no limits to what God plans for the earth. Isaiah is bold enough (in the eighth century before Christ!) to speak of God not only associating foreigners and eunuchs with his people, but accepting them into the Temple and receiving their sacrificial gifts. God is preparing the way for something new. His standards of righteousness, already presented clearly in the Ten Commandments, are expressed again, with fresh encouragement.

Start reading here.


If you are looking for a solid but approachable companion to the Bible, I can wholeheartedly recommend A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament by John Bergsma and Brant Pitre. Although the authors are top-level Scripture scholars, they write for "real" readers. Notes include recent findings from archaeology and ancient manuscripts, and how each book of the Bible has been understood by the Church Fathers and used in Liturgy.