The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Fri, 30 Sep 2016 13:10:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Faith-Falling Fri, 30 Sep 2016 04:10:42 +0000

The deep secret mystery of faith lies in the fact that it is a ‘baptism’ in the death and sacrifice of Christ. We can only give ourselves to God when Christ, by His grace, ‘dies’ and rises spiritually within us.”—Thomas Merton

On many a sunny and crisp day over the years, people have sung along with Tom Petty, “And I’m free!  … Free falling!” That chorus makes me feel, just a tad, like I’m running off the edge of a mountain ridge, strapped into a hang glider. Someday I’d like to experience the exhilaration of true flight.


Christian faith is also a “faith-fall” of sorts. The exact moment we submit our own will to that of the Father, through Christ, God’s invisible plan of love can lift us to perspectives we’ve never seen before. At the very place where we experience the death of self, new life grows. When God asks us to give him something in our lives, most of us have trouble releasing our grip completely; it can be tough letting go of the things that matter to us: our reputation, our finances, our marriage, our children, forthcoming test results, or our job security. Sometimes we even have problems letting go of things we know aren’t good for us: a habitual sin, an unhealthy relationship, or a jammed schedule.

Learning to detach from our preoccupation with having things our way, and letting God have things his way in our lives, doesn’t mean we will always get our way, but it does mean that we will rise in freedom. As we learn to lay these things on the altar (as Christ “dies and rises spiritually within us”) we fall in freedom from the cliff of our own controlling ways. This “faith-fall” is a reversal of the “first-fall” of Adam and Eve. It is a trust in the love of the Father and his provision for our needs, our hearts, and our happiness. It is a lived “work” of what we know by faith: Deus Providebit. God will provide!

Action Step

Is there an area in your life that God is asking you to give to him in a kind of “faith-fall”? Pray about the issue this week, both at Mass and while meditating on your favorite mysteries of the Rosary. Ask Mary to help you follow her example, her “faith-fall fiat,” and help you to recognize and release the earthly things you are grasping so you can better hold onto the things of heaven.

At Mass this week, when receiving the Eucharist ask Jesus to allow his faithful embrace to become the strength you need to experience this “faith-fall,” so that your heart can soar with his. Then, pray in gratitude with St. Paul: “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).


This blog post originally appeared on The Catholic Year of Faith blog in April 2013.

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Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Tue, 27 Sep 2016 16:57:39 +0000

Jeff Cavins reflects on the Gospel reading about the mustard seed, saying that having faith is about being faithful. The Sunday Readings are:

First Reading: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Gospel: Luke 17:5-10

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Nunblogger Offers Detailed Review of Follow Me Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:11:22 +0000 Earlier this week, Sister Anne Flanagan of the Daughters of St. Paul—the writer behind the Nun Blog—shared her thoughts on Ascension’s newest Bible study, Follow Me: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Sister Anne mentions that the new study is great for Advent or Lent—or any other time of year. You can read her full blog post here.


She commends the study for being “informational” and “a real invitation to discipleship, to a relationship with Jesus through his Word.”

Sister Anne also encourages those interested to consider opening an account on, which allows any group of at least four participants to partake in any of Ascension’s thirty-eight study programs and stream the studies online through the account.

She states, “While I highly recommend that you bring this program to the attention of your pastor and parish adult faith coordinator, why not form your own study circle with a group from your neighborhood and extended family?”

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Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:38:05 +0000

Jeff Cavins discusses the Gospel for the Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings are:

First Reading: Amos 6:1A, 4-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 146:7, 8-9, 9-10
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
Gospel: Luke 16:19-31

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What We Can Learn from Zechariah’s Doubt and Mary’s Faith Fri, 16 Sep 2016 04:33:27 +0000 There are a series of parallels between the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Zechariah and his visit to Mary, all of which allude to an important aspect of faith. For example:

  • Both are “troubled” when the angel Gabriel approaches them (Luke 1:12, 29).
  • Gabriel reassures both, saying, “Do not be afraid” (1:13, 30).
  • Both are given the name of the coming child “John/Jesus” (1:13, 31).
  • Gabriel says of both children, “he will be great” (1:15, 32).
  • The work of the Holy Spirit is referenced (1:15, 35).
  • Both Zechariah and Mary respond with a question (1:18, 34).
  • Eventually, both Zechariah and Mary exalt the Lord in the Canticle and Magnificat respectively (1:68-79; 1:46-55).

However, Zechariah doesn’t go into his Canticle as directly as Mary does. And this is part of a larger portrayal of Mary in these early chapters as model disciple—one who hears the word of God and acts on it.

Zechariah and Gabriel

In fact, there is a subtle difference between the way in which Zechariah and Mary phrase their questions. Zechariah’s question could be quite literally (if awkwardly) translated as “According to what will I know this?” (1:18); whereas Mary’s question focuses not on how she will know, but simply on how this mysterious birth will come about: “How will this be since I do not know man” (my translation).

In other words, we can detect a subtle hint of doubt in Zechariah’s question: how can I know this or how can I be certain? For Mary, it’s not so much a matter of how can I know—it’s more “I know this is true because I trust my source, but I’m dumbfounded as to how it will happen.”

The angel clarifies the contrast we are drawing, by responding to Zechariah this way: “And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe” (1:20). Elizabeth, on the other hand, proclaims Mary’s faith: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (1:45).

Zechariah’s unbelief results in him being unable to speak; only after John is born and Zechariah confirms the name given by the angel is Zechariah’s tongue loosed, giving rise to his great Canticle. Mary, on the other hand, is unwavering in faith from the beginning, offering her “fiat” on behalf of all mankind: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (1:38). Accordingly, she moves straight into her Magnificat, immediately after she has visited Elizabeth.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus draws a subtle distinction between his biological and spiritual family: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (8:21). But a distinction does not necessarily imply a separation.

The First in the Order of FaithMary and Gabriel

Mary uniquely communicates her humanity to the Eternal Son of God—and so the Person born to her is the Person of God the Son (and for that reason, she is called “Mother of God”). But Mary is also first in the order of faith: it is she who—par excellence—hears the word of God and does it. Right after her fiat in verse 38, she responds “with haste,” going to visit Elizabeth (1:39). Further, St. Luke portrays her as prayerfully entering into this great mystery before her: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (2:19). And after losing Jesus and finding him (on the third day! 1:46), the text tells us that “they [Mary and Joseph] did not understand the saying that he spoke to them” (1:50). And yet, in faith, Mary “kept all these things in her heart” (2:51).

Faith is not necessarily understanding everything perfectly. But it does mean bringing our questions before the Lord as a child, in a disposition of trust. We believe—not because we’ve examined everything and found it convincing—but because we trust God. And Mary perseveres to the very end, through the Cross and beyond (see John 19:25-27 and Acts 1:14). Mary is our mother and model disciple, showing us the human face of faith, sanctified by God’s glorious grace.

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