Jesus Christ speaks to us through the scriptures, so I began our mission at Shelter Island by suggesting we have a good bible and use it. My suggestion is the New American Bible, Revised Edition– a good translation, good notes and it’s the version we read in church. More and more, the bible will become our ordinary catechism, prayer book and spiritual reading.
At the Second Vatican Council our church embraced the tools that modern scriptural studies offer for understanding the bible. Benedict XVI’s books on Jesus of Nazareth show how these tools can help us to know Jesus Christ.
In reading the scriptures, it’s good to let each book of scripture tells its own story.
For this reason, the church’s lectionary has a place for most of the books of the bible to be read on Sundays and on days through the year. Because they’re so important, we read one gospel consecutively through a year. This year on most Sundays, we’re reading the Gospel of Luke.
The church’s lectionary also offers an opportunity to hear and reflect on the scriptures together. This is one of the challenges before a parish community and any Christian group: how do we read and reflect on the scriptures together?
I recommended some online resources. The US Bishops’ site http://www.usccb.org/nab/y offers the New American Bible and the lectionary of readings for the year, as well as commentary. The Passionists have daily reflections on the scripture readings at www.thepassionists.org
We need to learn about the bible from good sources. We need caution when watching some of the biblical programs on television from The History Channel and National Geographic and others. Sometimes these programs are fundamentalist; sometimes they are inaccurate and depend on sensationalism to attract viewers.
Don’t be afraid to meditate on the gospels. Some of the most beautiful insights into the gospels have come from ordinary people praying from the scriptures. I think of Brigid of Sweden, whose reflections on the Passion of Jesus gave us the Pieta, the image of the dead body of Jesus cradled in his mother’s arms beneath the cross. The gospels say nothing of that, but Brigid said it had to be.
Meditation on the scriptures can also take place in a traditional prayer like the rosary. Pope John Paul II recommended this form of meditation in which we join Mary, who “treasured all these things and kept them in her heart.”