Monthly Archives: December 2010

Remembering the first evangelists …

Adoration of the Shepherds, Bronzino

Image via Wikipedia

In the tradition of St. Luke, humble, hard-working people were privileged to be the first visitors to the Christ Child. They could not keep the good news to themselves, but told all who would listen …

“So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:16-20

May Christ come into our hearts tonight and always. And may we be the humble but eager bearers of this good news to all who will listen.

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The blinding light of faith

Part of our discussion on Paul yesterday involved the blinding light of his conversion experience. Here’s  a timely Advent reflection on light and faith, touching on the Resurrection and on St. Paul.

BLINDING LIGHT

The Church gives images of light all of the time. Is there a reason for that which could have a serious effect on your faith walk?

by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source: Catholic.net

http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca&id=5996#

Now on to Unit 2 …

Whew …test on Unit One behind us. The “information retrieval exercise” was as promised: short answers, a memory verse, and a map. For Year One tests, we had mostly matching and true/false. This was harder, which I suppose is as it should be. It’s harder on the instructor to grade as well. Sorry about my handwriting, Gene!

The “we passages” in Acts

St Luke writes his Gospel

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Intriguing how the first-person plural passages in Acts led to speculation about the author of Luke and Acts. Was he or was he not Luke the physician, a companion of St. Paul? Were the passages from the author’s actual experiences, or did they draw on a travel diary by an unknown companion? Is use of the first-person simply a literary device?

Scholars disagree, notes Joseph Kelly (An Introduction to the New Testament, Page 183). Raymond Brown deems it possible the author of Luke-Acts did travel with Paul. Bart Ehrman favors the travel diary theory.

The passages are Acts 16:10-17, 20:5-16, 21:1-19 and 27:1-28:16.

“Personally,” Kelly says, “I find the travel diary theory unconvincing and the companion theory plausible but unprovable.” Ancient Christian writers who would have understood literary devices of the era believed the passages were written by the author.

Another interesting point: There’s only one mention in the Bible, in Colossians, that Luke was a physician. Scholars have not identified any passages in Luke-Acts that reveal any specialized medical knowledge.

“Jesus, remember me …”

The Good Thief on his Cross at Calvary

Image by Grufnik via Flickr

I am immensely touched by Jesus’ words on Calvary Hill – his pardon of his executioners and mercy for the Good Thief. The passages are only in Luke, powerful statements of the gospel’s themes of forgiveness and reconciliation.

“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:41-43

How can we doubt that God will forgive our sins when His Son forgave those who crucified Him?

One of my most moving experiences ever at Good Friday services was two years ago at St. Jude Parish in Bossier City. The entire congregation stood. We raised our arms over our heads and passed from one to another, down one pew and to the next, a full-size wooden cross. We chanted over and over, Jesus, remember me, when you come into your ki-ingdom. Jesus, remember me, when you come into your ki-ingdom …

Touching that cross, I felt the full weight of man’s sins, of my sins. I understood that Christ died that day for all of us living today, some 2,000 years later. We were there, with the Good Thief, among the bystanders, shoulder to shoulder with the soldiers and temple officials. We needed God’s mercy then and we need it now. And we owe the same measure of compassion to those who wrong us.

Assignments, review, and tests

Bible Eric 2

Image via Wikipedia

We are ending the longest period between classes – not three lessons to cover in three weeks, but two lessons and Unit One review to cover in six weeks. This makes the timing a bit less difficult, as Thanksgiving comes and goes during this time. But, of course, we all develop angst before our first test — dubbed an “Information Retrieval Exercise” – which will begin our next class on Saturday.

I remember feeling stressed last year at this time. It felt like “crunch time” fitting in study and review with Christmas shopping, shipping, and decorating. I’m a bit less stressed this year, being familiar with the test process. But suddenly I feel I’ve run out of time …

Even so, I appreciate how Catholic Biblical School employs different learning styles to engage us in Bible study. We hear excellent lectures preparing us for upcoming lessons. At home we read Scripture passages, refer to footnotes in the study Bible, read relevant sections of commentaries and the Bible dictionary, consult our Bible Lands map book, and study supplemental material in our workbook. Our written lessons involve analyzing the scriptures, looking for themes, and comparing similar passages in different gospels.

We sometimes are asked to write from the point of view of the evangelist or the Old Testament writer. Year 1 assignments I completed included writing a creation myth, imagining I was Eve after the fall, imagining I was an Egyptian reporter after the parting of the Red Sea, and imagining I was Rahab during and after the siege of Jericho. Putting myself at the scene like that really involved me with the storyline and presented insights I otherwise would have missed. Example: The blowing of the trumpets at Jericho and circling the town day after day without attack surely was a form of psychological warfare!

Finally, reviewing our material and taking tests serve to reinforce what we’ve learned, hopefully impressing it in long-term rather than short-term memory.

Overall, the experience gives me the confidence to pick up the Bible spontaneously, look up a passage, mull it over, and embrace its message. And for that, I am most grateful.