Bishop’s Year of the Bible
Bishop Boyea invites you to join thousands of others in the diocese in our year-long reading of the Bible. Join anytime!
FROM THE BISHOP: Why read the Holy Bible? Well, as that great figure of the Early Church, Saint Jerome, said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. Jesus Christ is our reason to read the Holy Bible. It is in the pages of Sacred Scripture that we encounter him; that we get to know him and he gets to know us; that we fall in love with him, and, thus, we discover our deepest peace, happiness and meaning.
That’s why I invite you to join me in reading through the Holy Bible over the next few months. Each day, I will text you a chapter of Sacred Scripture directly to your cellphone. We will then read it and meditate upon it. Over the weeks, I’ll also text you invitations to events; share video reflections with you; and let you know about other Year of the Bible updates.
I look forward to journeying with you as we encounter Christ through various books of the Bible. Let us make this a deeply spiritual year for all of us. Thank you and God bless you.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
For the Easter Season, we will be reading the Gospel of St. Luke. In fact, St. Luke wrote both a Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. So, we will read the Acts after the Gospel and that will take us through Pentecost.
These two books by Luke account for almost a quarter of the New Testament. Written sometime in the 80s A.D., tradition has ascribed these works to St. Luke, a companion of St. Paul (Phlm 24; 2 Tm 4:11) and a physician (Col 4:14). Luke’s introduction (1:1-4) tells us his aim. He knows that others have written about Jesus, but he wants to give Theophilus “everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence … so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.”
Luke wants it clear that God has been acting consistently from the time of creation (the genealogy starts with Adam [3:38]), through all the Old Testament culminating in John the Baptist, through the preaching of the Kingdom by Jesus and his death and resurrection, into the working of the Church to the ends of the earth, especially through the preaching of Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. For Luke, this is fundamentally a preaching pilgrimage both by Jesus and about Jesus.
This journey begins with the Infancy Narratives of John and Jesus, the ministry of the Baptist as well as the transition to the ministry of Jesus (1:5-4:13). Chapters 4 through 9 cover Jesus’ ministry in the Galilee area. Luke then has a special focus on the Journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27). After his activities in Jerusalem in chapters 19 and 20, Jesus’ suffering and death (22-23) are followed by the resurrection and appearances (24). This movement or flow of God’s providence will then continue in the Acts of the Apostles. At the beginning of Acts, Luke sums up the Gospel account: “In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up.” (Acts 1:1-2) Teaching and preaching are critical elements of Luke’s accounts.
Luke is also a storyteller, and a good one at that. Here we will find the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus as well as the Prodigal Son and many more. But through it all there is the sense of movement to Jerusalem and then on to the world. This saving history is God’s providence for all, Jew and Gentile.
My favorite part of the Gospel is the journey to Emmaus (24:13-35) where Jesus was unrecognized until he had broken open the Scriptures and the Bread. I hope in this Easter season that Luke’s Gospel will break open an encounter with the Lord Jesus for all of you as well.
April 29-May 26
THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
For the second half of the Easter season through the Wednesday after Pentecost, we will be reading the Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke. In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke continues his work of providing a “certainty” about the teachings in which Theophilus had been instructed (see Lk 1:1-4; Acts 1:1).
How can Christianity be the fulfillment of the promises to Israel if the Jewish people do not see Jesus as the Messiah and how can Gentiles instead claim to be the heirs of those divine promises? Luke’s response is that this is God’s plan. Thus, Jesus told the Apostles “that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” (Lk 24:47) Jesus adds: “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Luke presents the account of how God has willed this progress, always under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to take place. The ministry does begin in Jerusalem with Pentecost and a large number of Jewish adherents (ch. 1-5), then is expanded to the Greek-speaking Jews through the work of the deacons, Stephen and Philip (ch. 6-8). Two critical elements in God’s plan are then manifest in the Conversion of St. Paul (9) and Peter’s eventual Baptism of the Gentile, Cornelius (10). Clearly, it is God’s will that Jesus be seen as the savior of the whole world.
The bulk of Acts is then focused on the ministry of St. Paul, who reaches even into Greece at the direction of the Holy Spirit (chps. 11-20). The book concludes with a series of trials and defenses of this new ministry in Palestine, Caesarea and, finally, in Rome (chps. 21-28). God has worked in Jesus Christ and in his Church to bring salvation to the world.
What is most fascinating about this book is that it is called the Acts of the Apostles, but the ministries of most of the apostles are not even mentioned. Luke’s aim is a singular one – to show that it is God’s will that the promises to Abraham be shared with all. Everything else is really secondary.
Peter summed this up the best when he went to the Gentile Cornelius: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35) After Peter then explained the Good News about Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius and his family. Peter noted: “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?” (Acts 10:47)
We are living in the time of the Church, the Church blessed by the presence of Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit. God’s will applies to us as well. Let us go to the ends of the earth, including our own neighborhoods, to announce the Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection on Christ’s role as priest, prophet and king
By Richard Budd, Director of Marriage and Family Life
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses
all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
– St. Teresa of Ávila (attributed)
St. Teresa of Ávila was a 16th-century Spanish nun and mystic who, among the various things she is known for, was a foundational reforming figure for the Carmelite Order. The religious sisters had gotten very lax and worldly through the years, and she felt particularly called to reform the order to be focused more on being disciples of Jesus Christ. As part of this vocation the Lord called her to, she was given many mystical experiences of the love of God and his desire for the soul to be more and more in union with him, to become a part of him. The above reflection attributed to St. Teresa gives a hint of her teaching.
This idea that the Christian is another Christ, or more than that, a member of the one Christ, making him present to the world around him, is not an invention of St. Teresa, however. We see this idea featured several times in the writings of St. Paul.
In Chapter 6 of Romans, Paul describes how everyone who has been baptized has been joined to the death of Christ and thus also his resurrection. In verse 11, he declares that we are “alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes how the members of a body are arranged and then teaches in verse 27, “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Finally, when Paul writes his Second Letter to the Corinthians, he tells them that we “are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another.” (3:18) This reality, that Christ allows us to share in his nature, is often referred to as the Mystical Body of Christ in Catholic teaching.
Since we share in Christ’s life, we also share in the work he came to do, his mission. Shortly after his resurrection, Christ appeared to the apostles and, in John 20, he bestows on them their mission by linking it with his own: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” (21) But what, specifically, is this mission?
In Chapter 4 of the Second Vatican Council’s document Lumen Gentium, or “Light of the Nations,” the Church teaches that the mission entrusted to the apostles that Easter Sunday night is not merely given to bishops and priests. All the members of the Church share in this mission of Christ:
These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the people of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world. (31)
Very succinctly, the council teaches that, by virtue of our baptism into Christ, we share in his role of being a priest, a prophet and a king. We share in these roles because, for Christ, these tasks flow simply from the fact that he is the Christ. Being joined to him, these roles then become ours as well, living in the day-to-day world.
In his famous Theology of the Body, St. John Paul II teaches that our lives are a gift, but they’re also a task. We didn’t do anything to earn the gift of our lives, but once received, we need to work with grace to develop the gift of our life of faith and perfect our ability to live out these three missions. Familiarity and intimacy with Christ will be crucial to growing into our life in him. One of the foundational means of intimacy with Christ, we know, is familiarity with Scripture. As St. Jerome, the ancient Scripture scholar taught, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”
In the coming months, here in FAITH magazine, we’ll break down each of these missions of priest, prophet and king and reflect more on their meaning in Scripture and our life of discipleship. Until then, God bless.