The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study http://biblestudyforcatholics.com 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 13:34:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bibles and BBQ http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/bibles-bbq/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bibles-bbq http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/bibles-bbq/#comments Thu, 27 Aug 2015 04:42:38 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=6571 Almost ten years ago, my husband attended a small class at our parish, St. Vincent de Paul in Colorado, where a new video program was being launched—The Great Adventure Bible study. There were only a few in the class … but Joe loved it. He grew up in a very Catholic home but had never studied the Bible at all. I stayed home, watched our little kids and anxiously waited for him to come home each week and tell me all that he learned. He got the bug and wanted to share the program and all he had learned. He deep down knew that our friends would love it and it needed to be shared with families around us.

Group w J&K

We brainstormed ways that we could get a group started that would include both husband and wife but also logistically would be easy since we all had small children. I grew up in the Protestant tradition and had watched my parents meet for study and fellowship weekly with their peers.

From all of this came the idea of Bibles and BBQ—we asked several of our friends (and their friends) if they would be interested in trying the four week program over the summer. We hosted the meetings in each of our homes … the host would grill/cook the main course and everyone else would bring a dish to share. While the parents would eat and study inside, all of the kids would eat and play outside with a babysitter. After the adults’ discussion was done, we would join the kids for dessert and a time of fellowship. It worked great and we decided to keep going on Sunday nights throughout the school year with the twenty four week study.

Building a Community

We had eight families (and eventually twenty-seven kids) that studied together for the next six years—we went through the original Great Adventure series, Matthew, Acts, Revelations and some parenting and prayer studies. Our parish priest would often join us for dinner and discussion. We valued each other’s friendships and watched each of our families (adults and kids) grow. Although we no longer meet, we see each other at school, church and various community events.

I think each family would tell you that our meetings were a blessing and a time of huge growth! Although our kids do not see each other daily, they truly think of these families and their children as their close friends. Today, we are all doing different things to continue our studying and growth—several of the dads still meet regularly as part of a men’s group and the moms have branched out to study in different groups. Most of the kids are still at Catholic schools in town or away at college. We often see these families in larger groups on feast days and talk of getting together for a little “reunion.”

Our meetings were a blessing and a time of huge growth!

Once again, we thank Jeff Cavins and our own parish for being supportive of our un-traditional group. Joe and I personally credit the Bible studies and the group experience with giving our faith the jump start we needed. We continue to apply what we have learned. The Great Adventure lives up to its name—it is a great program, a blessing, and we are thankful for the opportunity to be part of it (Tweet this).

This blog post was provided by Joe and Katie Staib.


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Sunday Reflection: “Be Subordinate” http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/sunday-reflection-subordinate-reading/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sunday-reflection-subordinate-reading http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/sunday-reflection-subordinate-reading/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 04:20:28 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=6531 How does a Christian marriage work?  It is a question the early followers of Christ would have had to ask.  Christianity was a major departure from the dominant cultures of the time. It is a question we modern followers need to ask as well. In Ephesians 5:21-32 we see St. Paul’s response to the question.  It is a beautiful passage regarding the self giving relationship of spouses, but too often the message of the whole passage is missed and instead the focus is put squarely on verses twenty-two through twenty-four.

Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.

Boy, oh boy, do those verses make the modern reader squirm. Take them out of context and read them out loud at your next Thanksgiving dinner and watch what happens. Want to start a fight with your feminist sister in-law or agnostic brother?  These verses, taken out of context, are just the thing.

BeSubordinate

That is the problem. These verses are almost always taken out of context, and they just don’t make sense that way. To understand verses twenty-two through twenty-four we have to look at the whole passage.

The section begins in verse twenty-one, “Be subordinate to one another.” This sets up the context for the rest of the passage.  The verse tells us, quite clearly, that both the husband and the wife need to put their own interests behind that of their spouse.  It is not so unlike Christ’s instruction to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The author then goes on to describe how this “subordinate” relationship is supposed to work. He uses the relationship of Christ and the Church as a means of instructing his reader.

Putting Ephesians 5 into Context

Saint Paul begins with the wife. This is the aforementioned verses twenty-two through twenty-four.  The section is not the tyrannical dictate of a patriarchal system. Saying “wives be subordinate to your husbands as to Christ” does not give husbands ultimate permission to rule as totalitarian dictators. If the wife is to be subordinate to her husband as to Christ then we must remember that a healthy relationship with God is not one of tyrannical control. God is love. He wants the best for our life, but He never forces that will on us. He is patient. He allows us to wrestle with His will and even to ask for another way.  Do you believe that God is always working for your good? Hopefully, in choosing a spouse you sought out, or will seek out, someone that you can say the same of.

Saint Paul then turns his attention to the husband. Read verses twenty-five through thirty.  The husband is not given a divine right to decree that his own will is perfect. He is called to be a reflection of Christ. Remember, Christ describes himself as “meek and humble of heart.”  Saint Paul instructs husbands to “love your wives even as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her.”  That is important!  How did Christ love the Church?  He sacrificed himself totally for it.

Husbands are called to total self sacrifice for their wive’s happiness, well being and sanctity (Tweet this).

Ephesians 5:21-32 is a beautiful instruction to Christian spouses. Husbands are called to be like Jesus, totally giving themselves to their wives, as Christ totally gives himself to the Church. Wives are supposed to totally give themselves to their husbands, as the Church is called to totally give itself to Christ. Remember verse twenty one, “be subordinate to one another.” Neither spouse puts their interests above the other.  The only way there is tyranny here is if either one of the spouses refuses to live out their call.  A wife in this scenario could easily be tyrant, acting as a type of Sanhedrin over her Christian husband, convicting, and condemning him as he seeks to give himself for her. So too, a selfish husband could easily be a Herod over his Christian wife, seeking to rule over her as a false king. When both live out their call, as described in Ephesians, spouses are protected from this tyranny and marriage becomes an insight into the mystery of Christ’s love.

What Are Your Thoughts?

For married readers: Can you think of a time you have been a type Sanhedrin or a Herod, putting your own concerns or desires above the needs of your spouse?  Take a moment to invite God to lead you to how you can more fully live out Ephesians 5:21-32 in your relationship.

For single readers: If you are discerning marriage are you looking for a vocation in which you can totally give yourself for the sake of another or are you looking for a relationship that will meet your needs, fulfilling your desires? Take a moment and invite the Lord to give you a heart to love like him in your future marriage.


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Feast Day: Queenship of Mary http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/queenship-mary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=queenship-mary http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/queenship-mary/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 04:27:17 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=6502 August contains two special days to honor the Blessed Mother, the Assumption and the Queenship of Mary. At the end of Mary’s earthly life, she was assumed into heaven and upon entering she became Queen of Heaven. By looking into the Scriptures, how can we deduce these things? Many non-Catholics strongly disagree with these declarations about Mary, because it isn’t explicitly stated in the Bible, but these events are not hard to see if we observe how God has worked with His people here on earth.

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Mary’s Faithfulness

First, it would be hard to deny that Mary was the most faithful follower of Jesus. She was willing to be stoned or scorned or left destitute just by agreeing to conceive Jesus. Then she faithfully sacrificed her own life to raise Him in poverty, even at one point fleeing to Egypt to save her son’s life. She faithfully observed the Laws of Moses and raised Jesus in faith. The list can go on and on, but the question to ask is, how did God reward other people for faithfulness?

Two men mentioned in the Bible were “assumed” into heaven for their faithfulness: Enoch (Hebrews 11:5: Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-13). God chose to bring them to heaven without experiencing death, so it is not unprecedented to be assumed into heaven. The gospels end before the death of any of the Apostles except for James, and so we rely on oral tradition to fill us in on what happened to them. The same goes for the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was the most faithful follower of Christ and certainly deserving to be taken to heaven as her reward. By understanding the ways of God, we can also understand the teachings of the Church.

The Blessed Mother as Queen

Second, it is completely undeniable that Mary is the mother of Jesus, the King of Kings, and therefore the queen mother (Tweet this). The position of the queen mother is well documented in the history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings. One familiar example is Bathsheba, wife of King David and mother of Solomon. When Solomon became king, Bathsheba played a role in his kingdom as an advocate (1 Kings 2:12-22). King Solomon also had a seat for her at his right side. Obviously, the mother of the king was honored and respected in the earthly kingdom.

When we look at the heavenly kingdom of Jesus, we see an obvious parallel. Once there were twelve tribes, now there are twelve Apostles, all of whom also reign with Christ on thrones (Matthew 19:28-30). Once there was a queen mother, now there is the Queen of Heaven. It only makes sense that Jesus would honor his blessed mother in his kingdom. So much of Jesus’ teaching on earth was about the Kingdom of God, so we must realize that this kingdom was real and important to Him. Why would he create a kingdom and invite everyone to come and then look at his mother and say “you aren’t any more special than all the others, so you can’t be Queen.” Nonsense! She is Queen of Heaven by the mere fact that she is the mother of Jesus, but beyond that, she is deserving and qualified for the position as well.

Ways to Honor Mary’s Queenship

  • In honor of the Queenship of Mary, bring her your petitions believing she will intercede for you.
  • Pray a decade of the Rosary, the Coronation of Mary, when she is crowned Queen of Heaven.
  • Chose a picture of Mary in your home and set a bouquet of flowers before it to honor her.

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Last Supper and God’s Love for Us http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/last-supper-shows-much-god-loves-us/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=last-supper-shows-much-god-loves-us http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/last-supper-shows-much-god-loves-us/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 04:50:16 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=6342 Covenants establish family bonds—as is the case with marriage and adoption, where new families are created. In the ancient world, covenants were often made by sacrifice, sacred oaths, and a communion meal. In fact, the Hebrew idiom expressed in English translations of “so and so made a covenant” is karath berith, literally, “to cut a covenant” (cf. Gen 15:18Ex 24:8); this idiom is indicative of the close correspondence between sacrifice and covenant-making.

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We see this in the Passover sacrifice that leads to the ratification of the Mosaic Covenant at Mt. Sinai. In Ex 12, the Passover lamb is not just slain; it must be eaten (v. 4); this act makes way for God’s great deliverance out of Egypt. In Ex 24:3 on Mt. Sinai, Moses throws half of the blood of the sacrifice upon the altar and half upon the people (Ex 24:6, 8). Strange as this event may appear to us, the biblical imagery is clear: the blood symbolizes life (cf. Lev 17:11; Gen 9:4), here the shared life between God and His people, a point further brought out by the communion meal that follows (Ex 24:11). It is here in this context that Moses proclaims: “Behold, the blood of the covenant”—the very same words echoed by our Lord at the Last Supper.

Drawing from this miraculous deliverance, the Prophets proclaim a hope for a New Exodus—something greater than a deliverance from physical bondage and an arrival to an earthly Promised Land (cf. Isa 65:17-18). Jeremiah proclaims this hope by prophesying a “New Covenant” (Jer 31:31), a phrase once again echoed by our Lord at the Last Supper.

New and Everlasting Covenant

Jesus’ final meal takes place in the context of the Passover (cf. Lk 22:8, 11, 13, 15)—a meal in the first century which both remembered and anticipated the Exodus, both commemorating the past and stirring hopes for the future. But conspicuously absent in the Last Supper is any mention of a lamb—a glaring omission, to say the least! In this context, Jesus takes bread and wine and declares, “This is my bodythis is my blood.” He is the Passover Lamb, bringing about a new and greater Exodus—leading us not to an earthly Promised Land, but to a heavenly one (cf. Heb 12:22).

Jesus here states, “For this is the blood of the covenant” (Mt 26:28), drawing from Ex 24:8 where Moses sealed the covenant with Israel through sacrifice. Jesus is the Paschal Lamb, the sacrifice who will seal the New and Everlasting Covenant. And in Luke’s account, Jesus uses the very words “new covenant” (Lk 22:20), hearkening back to Jeremiah’s prophecy. In fact, Jesus uses the word “covenant” only here—not because “covenant” was unimportant to Him, for it truly is the “red thread” running throughout the entire Bible. Rather, Jesus reserves this all-important motif for the Last Supper, where He will be the New Covenant sacrifice, establishing a new family bond between God and mankind.

In fact, when Paul discusses the Eucharistic cup, he uses a very powerful word—koinonia: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation (koinonia) in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). Through the blood of Christ, we now have shared life with God (cf. Jn 6:56).

The Passover sacrifice is not complete with the death of the lamb; rather, we fully enter into this shared life by consuming the lamb—sharing koinonia with God through Christ.

Salvation is not just about being forgiven; it is entering into the family of God—not simply receiving a divine acquittal. In Christ, God becomes Father to us in a way that is unfathomable for the creature qua creature; through Christ we become a child of God, such that God the Father looks upon us and loves us as He does His only-begotten Son (Tweet this). This, in my opinion, is one of the hardest things to believe as Catholics—namely, that the Infinite and Eternal God really loves us that much. But this—and no less—is the Gospel.

What does God’s Fatherhood mean to you? How different is the gospel vision of God as Father from Satan’s lie that God is simply Master?


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Bread of Life 3: Eternal Life http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/bread-life-3/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=bread-life-3 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/bread-life-3/#comments Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:57:27 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=6492 The Gospel for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time is so central to Catholicism that it’s worth looking at again. In the Gospel the week before, Jesus provoked some murmuring from the crowds in Capernaum when he declared, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:41), but it’s full-scale arguments that ensue when Jesus continues in this week’s Gospel by saying, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (Jn 6:51).

Juan_de_Juanes_002

Rather than dialing back, Jesus intensifies his claim by using the “Amen, Amen” formula, which you remember is the equivalent of saying “Pay attention. Don’t miss this. Weigh carefully what I am about to say.” In his next breath, he says ““Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:53).

It’s not only the specificity and repetition that intensifies his claim, but the Greek words used by St. John in the Bread of Life Discourse. In the earlier verses (Jn 6:49-53), St. John will use the ordinary Greek word for eating (Greek, phago). But as Jesus continues, the stronger Greek verb trogo is now invoked (Jn 6:54-58). This Greek verb means not simply to eat but to “gnaw, munch or crunch.” It’s meant to convey the loud sound like when you bite into celery or a handful of nuts. This shift is meant to remove all ambiguity about what he is saying.

Jesus isn’t proposing cannibalism or violating the Old Testament prohibitions against drinking blood from lower forms of life. It is his glorified body that will be shared with us sacramentally through a special work of the Holy Spirit. Our friend Tim Staples does a good job refuting this idea (Are Catholic Cannibals?).

Heaven in Our Hands

In closing, I want to turn our attention to what is rarely discussed when speaking about John 6: the promise given to those who will consume Christ. (Jn 6:51, 54, 57) It is nothing less than eternal life (Tweet this)! This isn’t just some “pie-in-the-sky” promise for a future time, but something we can enjoy right now! I love how St. John Paul II spoke of this promise of the Lord, “Those who feed on Christ in the Eucharist need not wait until the hereafter to receive eternal life: they already possess it on earth, as the first-fruits of a future fullness which will embrace man in his totality. For in the Eucharist we also receive the pledge of our bodily resurrection at the end of the world…This pledge of the future resurrection comes from the fact that the flesh of the Son of Man, given as food, is his body in its glorious state after the resurrection. With the Eucharist we digest, as it were, the ‘secret’ of the resurrection” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, para. 18).

Questions

Have you ever thought about the connection between the Eucharist and your future resurrection? Most of us haven’t. Take a moment this week to share St. John Paul II’s quote with someone in your parish or family.

The phrase “you are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to the Eucharist. What are some specific ways you can share the gift of life the Eucharist has given you with others?


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