The Great Adventure Catholic Bible Study http://biblestudyforcatholics.com 73 Books. One Story. Your Story. Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:17:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/third-sunday-ordinary-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=third-sunday-ordinary-time http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/third-sunday-ordinary-time/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:23:16 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=8638

In this Encountering the Word video for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jeff Cavins demonstrates how God continues to reveal his plan for humanity through Scripture. The Sunday Readings are:

First Reading: Isaiah 8:23-9:3
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 27:1, 4, 13-14
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Alleluia: Matthew 4:23
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-23


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C. S. Lewis on Humility http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/c-s-lewis-humility/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=c-s-lewis-humility http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/c-s-lewis-humility/#comments Thu, 12 Jan 2017 05:20:34 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=8533 When we hear the word “humility,” many of us think of low self-esteem and self-deprecation: I for one used to envision the ideal as making a concerted effort to disavow the truth of any compliment ever received.

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The Christian tradition, however, has never quite seen humility this way. In fact, the above is something of a caricature. For St. Thomas Aquinas, humility is about recognizing the truth about oneself, which entails recognizing both our limitations and our gifts. For example, if someone told Lebron James that he is one of the greatest basketball players ever to play—and if Lebron gave credit to his coaches and those who have helped him along the way and ultimately to God—then Lebron could say in all humility, “Thank you” and simply acknowledge the truth of the statement.

Building upon this framework, C. S. Lewis captures the essence of humility in his Screwtape Letters, writing: “By this virtue, as by all others, [God] wants to turn [our] attention away from self, to Him and [to our] neighbors.” For Lewis, humility is not a matter of thinking less of ourselves—but less about ourselves, forgetting ourselves and turning outward in love.

He continues:

“[God] wants to bring [us] to a state of mind in which [we] could design the best cathedral in the world and know it to be the best and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than [we] would be if it had been done by another. [God] wants [us], in the end, to be so free from any bias in [our] own favor that we can rejoice in our own talents as frankly and gratefully as in our neighbor’s talents—or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall. [God] wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognize all creatures (even ourselves) as glorious and excellent things…. He would rather [us] think ourselves a great architect or a great poet and then forget about it, than that [we] should spend much time and pains trying to think [ourselves] a bad one.”

Self-forgetfulness

Have you ever been in a conversation where it seemed like the other person couldn’t get past what they had going on that day (their tasks, their worries)—where they really weren’t “available,” even though they were right in front of us?

Or, have you ever been in conversation where it almost felt as if you were “watching” yourself have the conversation—wondering almost audibly to yourself: “How did I sound just there? How did they take that? Am I making a good impression?”

Compare this to those wonderful free-flowing conversations, where you really lost yourself in the ebb and flow of the discussion. In these wonderful encounters, we’re not thinking about ourselves—we’re not worried about how we look. Rather, we are truly entering into the world of the other—and this is what humility enables us to do. Humility enables us to forget ourselves and turn outward in love. In this sense, humility liberates us from the self-absorption of our ego, opening up space for a greater communion with God and others.

Pride and vanity are restrictive, turning us inward—ultimately making us sad, insecure, and restless. Humility, on the other hand, is expansive—turning us outward, and making possible an encounter with true joy.

Even of Our Sins

Paradoxically, the “I’m so terrible” attitude can actually undermine humility. Lewis hints at this when he writes: “Even of [our] sins [God] does not want us to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner [we] turn our attention outward, the better [God] is pleased.”

Of course, we must treat sin with utmost seriousness. But when we fall and we’re distraught, we have to ask ourselves why we are so upset. Is it merely because we have offended God, or is it perhaps partly due to the fracturing of the idealized version of ourselves? This is what Lewis is getting at. Jacques Philippe teaches likewise in Searching for and Maintaining Peace:

“[The sadness and discouragement that we feel regarding our failures and our faults are rarely pure; they are not very often the simple pain of having offended God. They are in good part mixed with pride. We are not sad and discouraged so much because God was offended, but because the ideal image that we have of ourselves has been brutally shaken. Our pain is very often that of wounded pride” (for more here, see chapter 7 of my Spiritual Survival in the Modern World: Insights from C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters).

How can we come to God as we are—acknowledging our brokenness and our gifts—trusting confidently in his mercy? How can humility as self-forgetfulness help us grow in communion with God and neighbor?


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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/second-sunday-ordinary-time/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=second-sunday-ordinary-time http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/second-sunday-ordinary-time/#comments Wed, 11 Jan 2017 19:44:33 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=8625

In this week’s Encountering the Word video, Jeff Cavins explains why Ordinary Time is actually a very exciting part of the year because it reminds us of the promises God has in store for us. The readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time are:

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Alleluia: John 1:14A, 12A
Gospel: John 1:29-34


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Jeff Cavins: ‘Father Scanlan Guided Me Home’ http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/jeff-cavins-father-scanlan-guided-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jeff-cavins-father-scanlan-guided-home http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/jeff-cavins-father-scanlan-guided-home/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2017 17:22:06 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=8570 At a moment of great vulnerability, leaving my Protestant pastorate and returning to the Catholic Church, God gave me a father to greet me and guide me back home. Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, along with Bishop Paul Dudley teamed up to give me the guidance, wisdom, and encouragement to make the move. Not only did Father Scanlan encourage me in my first months back in the Church, but he quietly made it possible for me financially to study at Steubenville as he created a scholarship for me.

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For the first two years after returning back to the Church, Father Scanlan continually reminded me that I was not alone and that he would stand with me during the transition. I owe so much to this dear man of God. I really don’t know what I would have done without him. Even as a Protestant pastor, I followed him, admired him and learned much from him. I never knew that one day he would guide me with his wisdom through the toughest transition of my life.

As I got to know Father Scanlan throughout the years, we were able to share pilgrimages together. I especially remember going to the Holy Land with him. In the early hours of the desert morning he challenged me to a race to the top of Mt. Sinai. He won! Now, he has truly won as he is being embraced at the summit of all summits, the beatific vision.

I love you Father Michael and I truly want to emulate your walk with Christ. I owe you much!

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The Early Church Offers Guiding Light on Epiphany http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/early-church-offers-guiding-light-epiphany/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=early-church-offers-guiding-light-epiphany http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/early-church-offers-guiding-light-epiphany/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2017 05:58:27 +0000 http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/?p=8513 First the Son of God took on flesh and was born to the Blessed Virgin. Then his coming and his true identity had to be made known to the world. In a general way, that’s what the Solemnity of the Epiphany commemorates – the start of proclaiming the good news to every creature. More specifically, the solemnity commemorates Christ’s manifestation to the wise men, the first Gentiles to believe in him and worship him. The practices of the early Church and the teachings of Pope Leo the Great shed light on the meaning of the Epiphany.

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St. Paul writes in his Second Letter to Timothy that God’s plan was “made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:10, emphasis added). The Greek for “appearance” comes into our language as “Epiphany.” The word “epiphany” is defined as “an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Now in the work of the New Evangelization, we continue to participate in the wonder of those first epiphanies by making Christ known.

Celebrating Christ Being Made Known

If you were to attend a celebration of the Epiphany in the early local churches in the East, the gospel event actually celebrated would have differed from church to church. Some celebrated the birth of the Lord as the Epiphany. Others celebrated the message to the shepherds and the visit of the wise men. Many associated the Epiphany with the baptism of the Lord and some with his first public miracle at Cana. Some churches celebrated several of these events together as part of the Epiphany.

By the fifth century, the Church in the West had settled on the visit of the wise men as the main theme for the Solemnity of the Epiphany, since it is the first manifestation of Christ to the nations. The Epiphany was celebrated twelve days after Christmas on January 6, the date carried over from certain local churches in the East. The solemnity was celebrated for eight days, in what was called the Octave of the Epiphany. Various cultures developed customs surrounding the Epiphany. In some countries, the Epiphany, rather than Christmas became the day children received their gifts, and they received them from the wise men rather than from Santa Claus. Some cultures developed traditions involving “kings’ cake” that had a figurine of the Baby Jesus inside it. Others marked the solemnity by inscribing the traditional initials of the wise men together with the numerals of the new year with blessed chalk over the entrance door of the house. Today, following Pope Paul VI’s revised calendar, the Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday that falls between January 2 and January 8th, towards the end of the Christmas season.

Pope Leo the Great on the Epiphany of the Wise Men

Now let’s look exclusively at the Solemnity of the Epiphany as celebrated in the early western Church, in continuity with our own celebration of it. Pope Saint Leo the Great, who reigned from 440 to 461 as Bishop of Rome, wrote an insightful series of sermons on the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Pointing out that the Gospel of the day told the story of the wise men’s visit, the Epiphany for Pope Leo was clearly on that theme and was a necessary follow-up to Christmas. Christ is not only born but revealed, and revealed not only to Israel but to the ends of the earth.

Like Leo, most of us are not in the bloodline of Abraham, the patriarch. The epiphany of the wise men, so early in Matthew’s Gospel, shows that we too have become part of God’s plan. God has fulfilled his word to the prophet Isaiah: “the Lord has laid bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the nations upon earth have seen the salvation which is from the Lord our God” (Isaiah 52:10 as quoted in Leo’s Sermon 36 on New Advent).

In the visit of the wise men, Pope Leo also sees the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to Abraham. God promised Abraham that all peoples would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:3), that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5), that he would be a father of many nations (Genesis 17:4), and that kings would come from him (Genesis 17:6). For the wise men, the appearance of the great star meant the birth of a king, and this king was a descendent of Abraham. Further, this great star was the mode of invitation to the first Gentile believers, opening the door to countless peoples to join the covenant family of Abraham. For Pope Leo, these countless believers – ourselves included – are called to likewise be a multitude of guiding stars to others. By the witness of a holy life, we are called to point the way to Christ for others (Sermon 33). Pope Leo teaches that such a great grace and wonder behooves us to come together to praise God in a special solemnity (Sermon 34).

this great star was an invitation to the first Gentile believers, opening the door to countless peoples to join the covenant family of Abraham.

Pope Leo was famous in history for his Tome, delivered by his emissary at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Upon hearing his words upholding the natures and person of Christ, the bishops at the council exclaimed, “Peter has spoken through Leo.” In his sermons on the Epiphany, Pope Leo shows confidence that the Holy Spirit revealed even to the wise men the truth of Christ being fully human and fully divine while united in (what future theologians would describe as) one divine person. Pope Leo teaches that we can perceive this from the gifts the wise men offered (Sermon 31).

The epiphany of the wise men shows God’s faithfulness to his promises of old and also prompts us to share his love with others. Pope Leo’s sermons are very conscious of God’s action in history. He connects the gospel both with the past and the present and teaches for transformation and conversion in Christ. He also stands with the wise men in awe of God’s power, love, mercy, and fidelity. His approach must be ours as well for the Epiphany: “today those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by the sign and leading of a new star, which they believed to have been promised, they fell down in presence of the King of heaven and earth” (Sermon 36).


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