| By Bishop Earl Boyea

Year of the Bible Begins Nov. 29



It is not just a book or a library. It is a doorway, a window, a way to draw closer to Jesus and thus to the Father and the Holy Spirit. We priests read from the Bible every single day. And we have spent a good amount of our time studying the Scriptures during our seminary days. We all believe, as did St. Jerome: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

Catholics have often been accused of not valuing the Bible, the Word of God. However, during the past century some of the very best Scripture scholars have been Catholic. I am not sure this has always trickled down to the rest of us. Still, one does not need to be a Scripture scholar in order to read the Bible. I invite you to join me, then, in simply reading the Bible during this coming year, starting on Nov. 29. I have selected 365 chapters of the Bible that we will read together, one chapter each day. In this time of division and rancor, it will be a joy to spend this time with you as we pray with the Word of God together. May God unite us around his Word.

The Second Vatican Council stated: “The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the Body of the Lord.” (Dei verbum, 21) This is because we encounter Jesus Christ as the bread of life in both. Now this is the key to this coming year: We want to meet Jesus, who is the Word of God, as we read the Word of God. As we read and pray over each chapter, we need first to ask the Holy Spirit to help us meet Christ in that chapter and to have Christ speak to us in that chapter. To develop a habit of dialogue with Christ and encounter of Christ in the Scriptures will be a most vital part of our spiritual growth as individuals and as a diocese.

The first task for each of us is to have a Bible. I really recommend that you obtain a Catholic Bible for two reasons. First of all, Catholic Bibles usually have very helpful notes (I have used the Little Rock Catholic Study Bible quite often). Second, the Catholic Bible contains all the books which we revere as part of the Word of God, including the Book of Wisdom, which is one of my favorites.

The second aim is to read a chapter each day. If you forget, don’t worry. Either make it up or just move on. Start each day anew asking the Holy Spirit to help you encounter Christ in the text of the day. Some might say that the Old Testament texts were written before the time of Christ and thus could not speak of him. Yet, Jesus is the Word and the Bible is the Word. They are one and the same. The Spirit will help us if we are open to that grace. In addition, I have chosen books of the Bible that have some connection to the times of our Church year. Everything in our Church year, such as Advent and Christmas and Lent and Easter, centers around Christ. So, these texts should help us enter into those seasons of grace.

Finally, if you are bold enough, you might suggest that the text be read as a family or with a small group of friends and even invite some spiritual sharing on the text. If this is not possible every day, then perhaps arrange for such a prayerful gathering once a week. Whatever the circumstances, I urge you to read Jesus and let Jesus read you in the Scriptures.

Do You Want to Sign Up for the Bishop’s Year of the Bible?

Starting on the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29, he will text you a daily reading from the Holy Bible for you to read and meditate upon. Over the course of the year, both you and Bishop Boyea will get through the whole of salvation history. Wow! Just text BYOB to 84576 today.