Thursday, October 14, 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 Mark 15-16 and Luke 1.

Mark's Gospel has been called (I don't know by whom!) "a Passion Narrative with a long introduction." the powerful details in Chapter 15 have that eye-witness quality that make them essential for any screenwriter creating a Passion Play. Every three years we participate in that Passion Play ourselves, when the "B" cycle of Sunday readings means that we read, aloud, the entire Passion according to Mark in the middle of Mass on Palm Sunday. Don't let familiarity from movies (or from Palm Sunday) blind you to the events the way Mark has written them for his first readers, for whom he noted that Christ "did not take" the drugged wine (for he had promised not to "drink the fruit of the vine until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" 14:25), and for whom he had to translate the last words of Christ (Psalm 22:2).

Chapter 16 is a bit complex. On the one hand, we find a "typical" Easter morning story: women at the strangely open tomb (the same three who had been near Jesus' cross in Mark 15), a mysterious messenger, bewilderment. Some ancient Gospel manuscripts end on this note. But other (more important!) manuscripts are twelve verses longer. The longer ending is recognized as inspired Scripture and contains, in summary form, episodes that we know in more detailed fashion from Matthew and Luke. 

With the commissioning of the Apostles "to the whole world" (16:15), we turn the page and begin "The Most Beautiful Book Ever Written," at least so the Gospel of Luke was described by an eminent Protestant Bible scholar who published a book by that title in 1913. 

Detail of St Luke and the first lines
 of the Annunciation from a Flemish
Book of Hours; used with permission
from the Walters Art Museum.
The Gospel of Luke is part of a two-volume set (Acts of the Apostles is Volume II), written in the best Greek in the New Testament (so I am told). It has been called the Gospel of mercy: it is only in Luke that find the parables of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. It is the Gospel of Mary, who is assumed to be Luke's primary source for the stories of Jesus' childhood, stories which are nowhere else to be found. (Luke's vivid depiction of Mary is one of the features that led to his being adopted as the patron saint of artists.)

Chapter 1 of Luke is the in-breaking of the divine into human time. And there are two settings. One is as majestic as humans can possibly make it. The other is humanly inconspicuous, but incomparably glorious in God's eyes.

Start reading Mark here and Luke here.

As we begin the Gospel of Luke, I can't even begin to delve into all the treasures his first chapter contains about the Blessed Mother. And yet Luke's Gospel is one of the most important sources we have for our "picture" of the Mother of Jesus, and contains all but two of the sentences we can attribute to her (those two come from the Gospel of John). So let me recommend Dr Brant Pitre's wonderful book, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary: Unveiling the Mother of the Messiah. Reading this will deepen your appreciation of the Old Testament "types" we have already become so familiar with, and show how the Bible really is a unity inspired by the Holy Spirit. Not only is this an amazing and interesting book, it was written at the request of our own Sister Julia Darrenkamp, a friend of Dr Pitre's (and of the Blessed Mother).

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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