Sunday, May 16, 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: 

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have created people 
to rule this world that you have made,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, 
and reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, 
a weak human being,  
and lacking in comprehension of your Word and your will.

Send your Wisdom from the holy heavens,
from your glorious throne,
to be with me, to guide me,
to enlighten me, to lead me to you.
(Based on Wis 9)

Today's chapters are Job 13-15 and (because it is Sunday) Psalms 89 and 90.

Eliphaz will react strongly to Job's self-defense before God, pronouncing him not only guilty of unnamable sins, but arrogant and blasphemous.

Although Psalm 89 is written in praise of God's covenant with David, it is one of the Psalms that has an author attribution: it was composed by "Ethan the Ezrahite," considered to be the wisest man in the ancient world after King Solomon himself. Psalm 89 is an important Christological Psalm, and is used quite frequently in the liturgy, especially in the Christmas season.

Psalm 90, a lament, begs God's mercy in view of the brevity of human life: "seventy years, or at the most eighty, for the heartiest." This is what Dante is referring to at the beginning of his masterpiece, The Divine Comedy: “In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” In other words, Dante's mystical experience took place when he was 35: in the middle of a biblical lifespan of 70 years, according to Psalm 90.

Start reading Job 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, May 15, 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: 

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have created people 
to rule this world that you have made,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, 
and reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, 
a weak human being,  
and lacking in comprehension of your Word and your will.

Send your Wisdom from the holy heavens,
from your glorious throne,
to be with me, to guide me,
to enlighten me, to lead me to you.
(Based on Wis 9)

Today's chapters are Job 10-12.

Job's conversation with his friends today centers on God's power and majesty. With the end of Job's response to Zophar, we close the first of three sets of conversations between Job and his visitors.

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, May 14, 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: 

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have created people 
to rule this world that you have made,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, 
and reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, 
a weak human being,  
and lacking in comprehension of your Word and your will.

Send your Wisdom from the holy heavens,
from your glorious throne,
to be with me, to guide me,
to enlighten me, to lead me to you.
(Based on Wis 9)

Today's chapters are Job 7-9.

The words we begin with today are Job's, speaking now to his friends, now in complaining prayer to God, shaking his fist at the Creator. That these expressions of human suffering are in the Bible strikes me as significant: Anyone can find that their misery has been put into words that are also the words of the Holy Spirit. We, too, have permission to yell at God, and shake our fists at him in pain and frustration.

Through it all, and especially in the face of Bildad's insinuations that Job is simply in denial about some deep dark sin that is the real reason behind his affliction, Job affirms his innocence. This is fundamental for the book: It is a pondering of the meaning of the suffering of the innocent

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, May 13, 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: 

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have created people 
to rule all the universe you have made,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, 
nd reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, 
a weak human being,  
and lacking in comprehension of your Word and your will.

Send your Wisdom from the holy heavens,
from your glorious throne,
to be with me, to guide me,
to enlighten me, to lead me to you.
(Based on Wis 9)

Today's chapters are Job 4-6.

After Job's piteous lament, his visitors begin to speak, yet their words are hardly consoling! In fact, they follow the same patterns of thought that philosophers through the ages and across cultures will take in attempting to make some sense of the problem of evil and pain. Most likely you will recognize (and probably nod along with) much of what Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar have to say: They really are wise men! But "the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom," Paul will write (1 Cor 1:25). The future light of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus will shed an unexpected light on the question, revealing that suffering can even be meaningful.

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, May 12, 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: 

God of my fathers, Lord of mercy,
who have made all things by your word
and in your wisdom have created people 
to rule all the universe you have made,
and to render judgment in integrity of heart:
Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne, 
nd reject me not from among your children;
for I am your servant, the child of your handmaid, 
a weak human being,  
and lacking in comprehension of your Word and your will.

Send your Wisdom from the holy heavens,
from your glorious throne,
to be with me, to guide me,
to enlighten me, to lead me to you.
(Based on Wis 9)

Today's chapters are Job 1-3.

Today we begin a new section of the Bible, the Wisdom books. In some ways, these are the most approachable books of the Bible, the most humanistic books. It is easy to appreciate the frank look at life and the old proverbs, and at least one of these books inspired lyrics that made it to the very top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart

We start with one of the most sophisticated and perplexing books in the Old Testament. One of the challenges of the Book of Job is that it looks like a story. It even begins with "Once upon a time..." (well, close enough). The Book of Job is a philosophical reflection in poetry form (a typical ancient philosophical vehicle) that uses a story to launch its theme.  

As for Job himself, he is not even Jewish: He is a Gentile (some say he is a kind of Adam figure). But the narrative doesn't last very long: It only comes in at the beginning and at the end. We will need to read these next 42 chapters like poetry or like a painting (this is where the story line can help): looking for the striking images, the big picture, the emotions as the Book of Job tackles the ultimate puzzle, the mystery of the suffering of the innocent. It is a puzzle that is not solved by the end of the story, but the place of the book, at almost the very center of the Bible, is significant for us who believe in the Innocent One who suffered and then conquered all evil, including death, by undergoing it on our behalf. 

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, May 11, 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: 

My God, I adore and thank your loving and wise Providence, manifested on every page of Sacred Scripture. You have always been close to sinful and erring humanity, and have indicated the way and given hope. Amid the shadows of error and corruption, you kindled the light of your truth; amid universal corruption, you are the Just One; amid so much idolatry, humanity in every corner of the earth has cultivated a sincere worship of you.
Let my reading today increase my trust in your goodness, your mercy, and your unfailing faithfulness.

Today's chapters are 2 Maccabees 12-15.

I added a fourth chapter today so that we could finish the book AND the section of historical books.

Chapter 12 has a significant story in it. We have already seen that by this time (164 BC), belief in the resurrection of the dead had developed on the basis of God's creative power and faithfulness. Now we see that this belief in a future resurrection of the body also includes the possibility of purification from sin even after death, and in the possibility of intercession on behalf of those who have died. This chapter, in other words, offers a Scriptural basis for Catholic teachings about Purgatory (there are other references, such as Matthew 12:31-32 which references sins being forgiven "in the age to come").

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.

Monday, May 10, 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: 

My God, I adore and thank your loving and wise Providence, manifested on every page of Sacred Scripture. You have always been close to sinful and erring humanity, and have indicated the way and given hope. Amid the shadows of error and corruption, you kindled the light of your truth; amid universal corruption, you are the Just One; amid so much idolatry, humanity in every corner of the earth has cultivated a sincere worship of you.
Let my reading today increase my trust in your goodness, your mercy, and your unfailing faithfulness.

Today's chapters are 2 Maccabees 9-11.

The Temple is rededicated with joy on the very anniversary of its desecration: but the Holy City is not yet safe.

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, May 09, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and godmothers among the Bible readers!

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: 

My God, I adore and thank your loving and wise Providence, manifested on every page of Sacred Scripture. You have always been close to sinful and erring humanity, and have indicated the way and given hope. Amid the shadows of error and corruption, you kindled the light of your truth; amid universal corruption, you are the Just One; amid so much idolatry, humanity in every corner of the earth has cultivated a sincere worship of you.
Let my reading today increase my trust in your goodness, your mercy, and your unfailing faithfulness.

Today's chapters are 2 Maccabees 6-8 and (because it is Sunday) Psalms 87 and 88.

Now we get to the heart of the first religious persecution in the history of the world. Earlier programs against the Jews had been ethnic or political. This time, life or death hinges on a strictly religious test: will this or that person obey God's law, or the political laws?

The world had known heroes. Now it sees martyrs of faith. Notice how a belief in personal resurrection (on the basis of God's power as Creator) has gradually developed on the basis of earlier divine revelation.

Psalm 87 sees Jerusalem as the "mother" of all who believe in the one true God. They may be from Babylon or Egypt, but in what really counts, they were born in the Holy City. This understanding of universal motherhood that links Jerusalem with all who worship the living God explains why Psalm 87 is often used as the Responsorial Psalm on feasts of Mary, the Mother of the Lord and of his Church. As mother of believers of every race, Jerusalem itself is a type (a prophetic foreshadowing, or in this case, an image) of Mary!

But wait, that's not all! Mary is, in her turn, a type of the Church! So Psalm 87 can also be interpreted of the Church. In fact, much of what we say about Mary, we also say about the Church, and biblical images of each are often understood of both one and the other. (When we reach the poetic books and the prophetic writings, and then when we reach the Book of Revelation we will find this in abundance.) Both Mary and the Church are Virgin, Bride, Mother: Mother of Christ and Mother of the Faithful. Mary is the first member of the Church; she is the first believer and the first member of the Church to fully experience the resurrection (through her bodily Assumption at the end of her earthly life). 

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, May 08, 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: 

My God, I adore and thank your loving and wise Providence, manifested on every page of Sacred Scripture. You have always been close to sinful and erring humanity, and have indicated the way and given hope. Amid the shadows of error and corruption, you kindled the light of your truth; amid universal corruption, you are the Just One; amid so much idolatry, humanity in every corner of the earth has cultivated a sincere worship of you.
Let my reading today increase my trust in your goodness, your mercy, and your unfailing faithfulness.

Today's chapters are 2 Maccabees 3-5.

Treachery!

A side note: Antiochus IV added the title "Epiphanes" (the Magnificent) to his royal name, and even renamed cities (or at least districts) "Epiphania" in his own honor. But under their breath some wise guys circa 150 BC called him "Antiochus Epimanes" (the Mad).

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, May 07, 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: 

My God, I adore and thank your loving and wise Providence, manifested on every page of Sacred Scripture. You have always been close to sinful and erring humanity, and have indicated the way and given hope. Amid the shadows of error and corruption, you kindled the light of your truth; amid universal corruption, you are the Just One; amid so much idolatry, humanity in every corner of the earth has cultivated a sincere worship of you.
Let my reading today increase my trust in your goodness, your mercy, and your unfailing faithfulness.

Today's chapters are 1 Maccabees 16 and 2 Maccabees 1-2.

We finish the first book of Maccabees (yay!) and then read the same history again, from a more theological perspective, in 2 Maccabees. The book does not begin as we might expect, with a prologue or introduction, but with a set of documents pertaining to the celebration of Hannukah--and then an introduction proper, addressed to us, the readers.

Start reading 1 Maccabees here and 2 Maccabees 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.