Sunday, October 17, 2021

Read the Bible with Me!

Welcome to the Pauline Family's "Year of the Bible"! We've been reading the Bible clear through this year. We've reached the New Testament, so read along with me. But first, let us pray: 


When the fullness of time had come, you sent your Word in the One who said, “Whoever sees me, sees the Father.” No revelation can surpass this, until Jesus comes again in glory. 

Open my mind today to the gift of life and truth your Word offers me through the Church. By your Holy Spirit, grant me wisdom and strength to put this Word into practice and to become, myself, a presence of Jesus for people who are looking for you.

Jesus, eternal Word and Son of the Father, live in me with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.


Today's chapters are Luke 8-10 and (because it is Sunday) Psalms 132 and 133.

The focus as we begin reading today is on discipleship and the Word. We join the group on the road and notice that this unusual rabbi Jesus includes women among his students. At least two of these women will be present at his tomb on Easter morning. 

In the last chapter, we read about the raising back to life of a dead man who was an only son; in Chapter 8, a chapter with a strong feminine presence, Jesus raises to life a dead girl, an only child. 

With the Transfiguration, Luke's Gospel makes a strong shift. There on the Mountain, in glory, Moses and Elijah speak with Jesus "about his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem." From then on, Luke says, Jesus (literally) "set his face toward Jerusalem" (9:51; the NABRE translation is much more prosaic). We see the same predictions of his suffering, death, and resurrection that we read in Matthew and Mark. The incomprehension, or perhaps denial, on the part of the apostles, invites us to reflect on our own willingness to accept the parts of the Gospel that do not match our expectations. 

With the story of Martha and Mary (Chapter 10) Luke's Gospel offers us one of two examples of people telling Jesus what to do (the other one is a man with a complaint about his brother!). In both episodes, people were trying to use Jesus to get their way with another person; to force Jesus into pressuring someone else so things would work out "right." Jesus doesn't scold Martha or tell her to stop serving. He just remarks that if she's anxious and upset about what she's doing, that's a signal that her real aim is something other than service. (How real is that?!) Luke follows this story of "serving" (literally, "ministry") with the Lord's Prayer: a lesson for anyone who wants to serve the Lord and their neighbor!

In a way, Psalm 132 (one of the "Songs of Ascent") matches the Gospel reading as the Lord begins his definitive journey to Jerusalem. The Psalm memorializes, at least in song, the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy City. The first half of the Psalm commemorates David's determination that the Ark of God's presence should be worthily ensconced in the City; the second half is a profession of joyful faith in God's fidelity to his own promises to David.

Flowing right from the previous Psalm, and linked to it interiorly, Psalm 133 is a single sentence (in Hebrew!) celebrating the lavish blessings that God pours upon his people who are united in worship (or as a family). The "unity" which is the source of the abundant blessings that Psalm 133 celebrates is only really clear in the Hebrew: Between Psalms 132 and 133, the Divine Name that was revealed to Moses is written seven times, the number itself bespeaking completion, totality, perfection.

Start reading Luke here and the Psalms here.

For additional background

I am happy to recommend this volume of The Four Gospels in an edition directed to young readers and their parents. The text of all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) in the New Revised Standard Translation is accompanied by FAQs that a middle-school reader might ask (or, to be honest,  anybody reading the Gospels for the first time). The footnotes were prepared by a team of Scripture scholars for parents and guardians, making the book ideal for family Bible reading. 

A look inside; I translated the FAQs 
(above the eagle) and footnotes for Mt 16-28!

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