Friday, October 15, 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 2-4.

There is a lot going on in Chapter 2, starting with the Nativity of Christ! Six weeks later, Mary and Joseph bring the infant to the Temple. Here, Luke's language is strangely inexact, at least when it comes to the Mosaic Law. The Church's liturgy for the Feast of the Presentation tells us that, actually, Luke is theologically exploding all the earlier categories. The couple is not bringing this "firstborn son" to the Temple to "redeem him" from the Lord, as was the case with every other firstborn boy in Israel (and still is, for some of the "ultra-Orthodox"). And the Law did not call for firstborn sons to be "consecrated"; rather, they were born consecrated! Instead, in this moment, the Lord is mysteriously coming to meet his faithful people, represented by Simeon and Anna. In fact, in the Eastern Churches, the Feast of the Presentation is called the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord.

Chapter 3 begins with historical data that should make any modern reader comfortable. Luke is assuring his reader (and patron?) Theophilus that the events he is narrating did not happen "once upon a time," but in the real world: the world dominated by Rome and its policies and its alliances with petty local rulers. Similarly, with his genealogy of Jesus (which varies somewhat significantly from Matthew's, but still establishes Jesus as a descendant of David), Luke puts Jesus in this real world. Even more, while Matthew's genealogy only went as far back as Abraham, Luke continues back to Adam and even to the Creator, establishing that Jesus is brother in the flesh to every human being who ever lived or shall live.

Luke's presentation of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry is very carefully developed. After his baptism by John (Chapter 3), Jesus spends an extended period under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer and fasting. Like his people, he is tested in the harsh conditions of the desert; unlike them, he relies on the Word of God and comes out victorious. The story of his preaching at Nazareth is particularly detailed. Again, the emphasis is on the Word of God. Truly, whatever scroll had been handed him that day in the synagogue, he could have proclaimed: "Today, in your hearing, the Scriptures are fulfilled." But here, instead of the devil being cast out, it is Jesus who is cast out of his own home town.

Start reading here.

We are still in Luke's Infancy Narrative, bu I can't even begin to delve into all the treasures these chapters contain about the Blessed Mother alone! 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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