| By Bishop Earl Boyea

Bishop Boyea's Year of the Bible

Bishop Boyea invites us to enter into a closer relationship with the Lord through hearing him in the words of Scripture. We are encouraged to read a chapter of the Bible each day and reflect on it together with our fellow pilgrims in the diocese. The following reflections from the bishop cover the chapters we’ll be reading in late August, September and much of October.

Aug. 24-28


In late August, we will be reading the five chapters of the Letter of James. This James is most likely a member of the extended family of Jesus himself and is thus called a “brother of the Lord.” He was also the leader of the Church in Jerusalem after Peter left the city. Paul tells us that Jesus appeared to James (1 Cor 15:7), which may be at the roots of his later being seen in Tradition as receiving revelations from Jesus. Paul also dealt with James, according to the Letter to the Galatians.

Martin Luther and many others viewed the Letter of James to be hostile to the writings of St. Paul, but there really is no evidence of this. Rather, James wants to make sure that faith is always manifested by the way we live our lives. It seems clear that James was writing for Greek-speaking Jewish congregations scattered about the Roman Empire, and his aim was to make sure they were living out the teachings of Jesus. James was eventually stoned to death in Jerusalem in 62 A.D. by the High Priest when there was an absence of the Roman Prefect from the area.  Thus, this letter dates from before that date or soon after if it was finally compiled by a secretary of James.

James is most remembered for his statement that faith without works that flow from faith is dead. This, in no way, denies that faith itself is a total gift from God, though some have been confused about this. We will read in these chapters of the need to make sure that we are gentle and merciful, that we keep strict control of our tongues, and especially that we care for the poor and needy. Jesus himself often spoke of all these matters, and James must have heard them often as he followed his kinsman around.

One of the more unique parts of this letter is his instruction about care for the sick and inviting the priests to anoint. This has served as the foundation of our teaching on the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, much as James no doubt witnessed Jesus curing the sick so often during Jesus’ ministry.

Sisters and brothers, as we take this brief break from Old Testament books, let us remember that it is always about Jesus that the Scriptures speak. Let us hear his voice through the words of James the Just, the Brother of the Lord.

 Aug. 29-Oct. 22


For September and much of October, we will be reading the 55 chapters of the two Books of Samuel. These contain the stories of Samuel, Saul and David, which seems to be set around the year 1000 B.C., though most of the text that we will be reading was probably finally written about 550 B.C., during the time of the exile in Babylon. 

These books relate the two key roles in Israelite life: prophecy and kingship. These are not separated roles. The prophets and the kings are to do God’s will. The prophets are to proclaim what that will is, to announce the word of God, and the kings are to live and promote that will as a model for the people and as an expression of the people’s adherence to God. This partnership with God is the living out of the covenant God made with his people.

You will notice as you read these chapters that a lack of prophetic speaking meant the victory of the Philistines and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant; only with Samuel and his cry to end idolatry is victory restored. However, the people are not satisfied with their own lives being reformed. They want to be like the nations round about. They want a king, and God allows Saul to rule. He, like David who follows him, has good points and flaws. Most of these two books will address those qualities.

Now, it is not just the moral failings of the people but also the flaws of the kings which will lead to disasters. Still, we are easily caught up in the very human story of David who reminds us of ourselves. God loves us and wants the best for us, but we continue to sin. But God does not leave us alone. He is with us on the entire journey of our lives.

Sisters and brothers, enjoy these two books of Samuel. They manifest a God who never gives up on his people though they continue to wander. This remains our constant hope.