I have been leading/teaching Bible Study classes for my parish since 2011. My most recent class was St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.  It was an eight-week study and the last three of my talks were recorded.  The main purpose of this talk is to teach people how to pray by looking at how St. Paul prays.  

My talk notes are here:

And the youtube video is here. It is 30 minutes.

The first step in the interpretation of Scripture, says Augustine, is to be moved by the holy fear of God, by which we seek to do his will. Fear of God reminds us that we are mortal and thereby curtails our foolish pride.

The second step is to attain piety. Piety makes us meek readers of Scripture. Otherwise we tend to defend our vices against Scripture’s condemnation or to place ourselves above Scripture in other ways. To learn from Scripture, we must be docile to God speaking through it.

The third step in the interpretation of Scripture consists in knowledge. The reader of Scripture comes to know that we must love God for his own sake, and we must love our neighbor and ourselves in reference to God. This knowledge challenges us to realize that our loves have not been well ordered; we have loved creatures to the contempt of the Creator. In fear of God and piety, the interpreter of Scripture must begin, therefore, by lamenting his sins.

The fourth step is to gain fortitude. Such fortitude enables us to seek justice and extract ourselves from the love of the world, so as to learn to love eternal things—the Trinity—as we should.

The fifth step is mercy. Loving our neighbor purifies our minds and hearts so that we can love the Trinity.

When we love our enemy, we have arrived at the sixth step, purity of heart. This step involves dying to the world, so that our joy comes from the light of the Trinity and we do not allow the desire to please others and avoid adversity to cause us to turn from the truth that challenges us.

The seventh and final step in the interpretation of Scripture is the peace of wisdom.

Matthew Levering, The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), pages 9–10.
(Note: Professor Levering is writing here about St. Augustine’s book “On Christine Doctrine”.)

Psalm 22 is a wonderful passage of Sacred Scripture to pray with, I highly recommend it for prayer in the seasons of Lent and Easter.

Psalm 22 is classified as a Lament. It is also the Psalm that Jesus quotes during His crucifixion, some 5 minutes before He dies.  This psalm is also a prophecy of Jesus and His crucifixion, there are 5 verses that are fully understood only in light of the passion of Jesus.

Verse 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabach-thani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”(Matthew 27:46)

7 All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;
And those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads, and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:39-40)

8 “He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him.”
He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” (Matthew 27:43)

16 Yes, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
And when they had crucified him… (Matthew 27:35)

17 I can count all my bones—they stare and gloat over me;

18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
…they divided his garments among them by casting lots (Matthew 27:35)

 

In addition to the specific verses that are a prophecy of Jesus, there is something special about this Lament. The last 10 verses of totally different than the first 21. In verse 22, the entire essence of the Psalm changes from a Lament to a Praise! So verses 1 to 21 are best understood with a point of reference of Good Friday afternoon, and verses 22 to 31 are best understood with a reference of Easter Sunday afternoon.

Five minutes from His death, Jesus is still teaching us. We always need to have a vision, an understanding of the great gift of what an eternity with Jesus will be like: an eternal praise of the Holy Trinity.

I am currently leading a Bible Study class for my Parish, an 11 week course on the Psalms. (This is the 5th Bible Study I am leading.) Note: The class materials are purchased from a company and are excellent, more information here.

I provide for the students additional material, to help them learn. Since we are in Lent I wrote a short, two page commentary on Psalm 51. This commentary is available on the right side of the blog in the section labeled “My Documents”.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,  and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life. He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:1–5a, 6-7)

In my hospice ministry I typically pray the same prayers with the patients who are in stable condition,and a few extra prayers with those who are actively dieing or in transition.  This prayer from The Revelation to John, is a vision that St. John receives from Jesus.  I must make note that people who are terminally ill really “feel” these words from Jesus.  My favorite verse is “Behold, I make all things new.”.  For the average healthy person that may mean very little, or perhaps there will be no wrinkles in their skin or no more gray hair.  For a person whose body, whose life, is being destroyed by disease, it means so much more: in heaven there is no more cancer.

  • Title: Acts of the Apostles
  • Author: Rev. William Kurz, SJ
  • Series: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture
  • Published by Baker Academic 2013, 397 pages, ($19 to $23)
  • ISBN: 978080103633

Print

The book has received both a Nihil obstat and an Imprimatur.

Two summers ago, I read cover to cover the Gospel of Matthew in this same series and it was fantastic. This summer I have spent reading and studying this book from cover to cover. This book is of the same quality. I have learned so much, it is difficult to summarize that learning.

I think the most important point I can write about is the author.  Fr. Kurz is a professor of Sacred Scripture at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he has been teaching there for over 35 years.  His expertise is St. Luke, both the Gospel and Acts. Fr. Kurz is not only an expert on St. Luke, but he is also a great teacher. The chapters read like you are listening to his class lectures, but it is important to note not on a difficult intellectual level.  The sentences, paragraphs, pages and chapters are understandable and interesting.  While this book can be and should be used in universities and seminaries to teach those types of students, the book is written in a way that it is usable and understandable for anyone who wishes a deep understanding of the Acts of the Apostles. I do mean deep understanding, 400 pages deep.

From the book’s introduction chapter, page 10:

A variety of features are designed to make the commentary as useful as possible. Each volume includes the biblical text of the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE), the translation approved for liturgical use in the United States. In order to serve readers who use other translations, the most important differences between the NABRE and other widely used translations (RSV, NRSV, JB, NJB, and NIV) are noted and explained. Each unit of the biblical text is followed by a list of references to relevant Scripture passages, Catechism sections, and uses in the Roman Lectionary. The exegesis that follows aims to explain in a clear and engaging way the meaning of the text in its original historical context as well as its perennial meaning for Christians. Reflection and Application sections help readers apply Scripture to Christian life today by responding to questions that the text raises, offering spiritual interpretations drawn from Christian tradition, or providing suggestions for the use of the biblical text in catechesis, preaching, or other forms of pastoral ministry.

Interspersed throughout the commentary are Biblical Background sidebars that present historical, literary, or theological information, and Living Tradition sidebars that offer pertinent material from the postbiblical Christian tradition, including quotations from Church documents and from the writings of saints and Church Fathers. The Biblical Background sidebars are indicated by a photo of urns that were excavated in Jerusalem, signifying the importance of historical study in understanding the sacred text. The Living Tradition sidebars are indicated by an image of Eadwine, a twelfth-century monk and scribe, signifying the growth in the Church’s understanding that comes by the grace of the Holy Spirit as believers study and ponder the Word of God in their hearts (see Dei Verbum 8).

A map and a Glossary are located in the back of each volume for easy reference. The glossary explains key terms from the biblical text as well as theological or exegetical terms, which are marked in the commentary with a cross (†). A list of Suggested Resources, an Index of Pastoral Topics, and an Index of Sidebars are included to enhance the usefulness of these volumes.

There are three important lessons I learned from this book:

1) The main people in Acts: St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Stephen, St. Philip make frequent use of Old Testament Scripture to talk about Jesus. Fr. Kurz explains all these usages of the Old Testament.

2) The Acts of the Apostles is the original evangelization, and Fr. Kurz explains how our new evangelization can learn from the original one.

3) Fr. Kurz does a great job of explaining how St. Luke shows the impact and effect of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Apostles as they go about the mission of establishing and building up the Church.

In conclusion, I have been very impressed with this book. Reading the 400 pages of this book was not a chore or a difficult intellectual exercise, but it has been a joy. I have and continue to look forward to reading and studying it.

In Matthew’s Gospel, 159 verses make allusions to 247 Old Testament verses, in 30 books. I created this document to visually show the connection between the New Testament and the Old Testament.  A famous quote from St. Augustine: “New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is made manifest in the New.” (“Questions on the Heptateuch” 2,73: PL 34,623. year 419)

The translation I used: New American Bible – Revised Edition (2011)
Copyright 2014 (All Rights Reserved) This document may not be sold, it is given away free.

The document is 42″ by 30″  (106.7 cm by 76.2 cm).  If you would like a printed copy, download the document and take it to you local printer and ask to have it printed on a 42″ plotter (printer).  See the “My Documents” section on the right side of the page…