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.


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.

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