Tag Archives: scripture study

True repentance not presumption

Saint Clement of Alexandria helps me to focus on what the Church has given for the 26th Sunday Through the Year: “The doors are open for all who sincerely and wholeheartedly return to God. Indeed, the Father is most willing to welcome back a truly repentant son or daughter. The result of true repentance, however, is that you do not fall into the same faults again, but utterly uproot from your souls the sins for which you consider yourself worthy of death. When these have been destroyed God will again dwell within you, since Scripture says that for the Father and his angels in heaven the festal joy and gladness at the return of one repentant sinner is great beyond compare. That is why the Lord cried out: ‘What I want is mercy, not sacrifice.’ ”

How close can I adhere to what Saint Clement is teaching? The other day I was speaking of the sin of presumption at a faith formation class –a concept that had vague recall from some of the participants. As the saint reminds, God is eager to welcome home a sinner with lots of mercy; that God will dwell within our soul with great vigor. The expectation is that the sinner reject sin. But what will happen if the love of sin is privileged more than the love of God?

Dom Lino’s book on Romano Bottegal there is a sentence which said: “To be called to Christianity, to the priesthood, to monastic life, is to be called to leave the figure (the image) – the teacher, the law – to enter into the reality (grace), the first and final intention of God – union with God and with the brothers, in a love that is personal, universal and humble.”

Where is the good news today? The good news today is that we have the possibility of beginning again – repentance/conversion – because this is what God wants for us: to have life and have life to the full! Christianity is the religion of the perpetual second chance.

Sacred Scripture as historical texts reveals Christ Jesus

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen Catholics draw closer to the Bible, the revealed Word of God. During the pontificate of Benedict XVI there was almost an explosion of emphasis on Scripture study, a resurgence of biblical preaching, a serious consideration of what it means to be an evangelical Catholic and lectio divina. In my opinion, it was Benedict XVI who gave critical attention to the sacred Scriptures in the calling of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God coupled with the concretizing the Church’s programatic direction with the publication of Verbum Domini (2010).

Rome Reports gives a spotlight on a recent initiative of the American Bible Society‘s “The Bible and the World.”

This initiative of the ABS is yet another great example of the place we Catholics need to have for the daily praying with God’s word, and the study of the historical text. As the preparatory commission for the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God stated about the complexity and beauty of the sacred text viz. our salvation in Christ Jesus,

Pastorally speaking, this truth requires an understanding on how to gather, in an analogous way, the various meanings of the Word of God in the faith of the Church, as seen in the Bible. In the Scriptures, Jesus Christ is shown to be the Eternal Word of God, which shines forth in creation, is given a historical character in the message of the prophets, is fully manifested in the Person of Jesus, is echoed in the voice of the apostles and is proclaimed in the Church today. In a general sense, the Word of God is Christ-the-Word, who, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the key to all interpretation. “The Word of God, who was in the beginning with God, is not, in his fullness, much talk or a multiplicity of words; but a single Word, which embraces a great number of ideas (theoremata), each of which is a part of the Word in its entirety… and if Christ refers us to the Scriptures in testifying to himself, it is not to one book that he sends us to the exclusion of another, but to all, because all speak of him.”Thus, continuity can be seen in diversity.

Jesus’ presence fixes our gaze

The revealed Word of God has set Christ Jesus before us in order that we may have that on which to fix our eyes. We cannot, with Paul, strive to gain Christ and be found in Christ without precise existential and personal knowledge of who Christ is.

And this knowledge has been made available to us in the living and often paradoxical figure of Christ we encounter in the “Gospel.” Without continually feeding on the Gospel text, Christian contemplation withers and dies or mutates into something strange.

Thus, being with Jesus interiorly and contemplating Jesus in the Gospel objectively are almost synonymous events.

Fire of Mercy
Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (now Fr. Simeon, OCSO)

What Fr Simeon speaks of is precisely why we study the sacred Scripture, why we do lectio divina, why we pray the Scripture in the Liturgy. God’s definitive (complete) revelation in Jesus Christ sets the stage for all other things.

Fr. Harrington Receives Heartfelt Tributes

Daniel Harrington SJOne of my former professors of Scripture is battling cancer.  Please offer a prayer for him. Jesuit Father Daniel Harrington was honored for his tremendous work in sacred Scripture. His notes and wisdom are still fresh in my mind. He is in his final year of teaching; this coming semester he is scheduled to teach three courses. Father Harrington’s many years of teaching, writing and research is a testament to the hard work of faith and reason that we ardently need.

The Harvard educated Jesuit priest served as editor of New Testament Abstracts since 1972; edited the eighteen-volume Sacra Pagina series of New Testament Commentaries (Liturgical Press) and wrote “The Word “ column for America magazine for three years. His bibliography, however,  is more extensive. Not long ago Harrington and Christopher R. Matthews published Encountering Jesus in the Scriptures (Paulist Press, 2013), a collection of scholarly essays exploring who Jesus was in the first century—and what he means for us today. Putting biblical theology to work for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Boston, Harrington has been on the staff at St. Agnes Church in Arlington and at St. Peter’s in Cambridge.

Father Harrington remarked,

“It has been my privilege as a member of the Society of Jesus for more than 50 years to immerse myself in the study of the Bible — the ancient languages, the forms of expression, the culture settings and the theological significance.”

“The old saying ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life’ certainly applies to me. It’s all been a joy.”

Read about the event here.

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, OP, RIP

Jerome Murphy OConnorOn November 11 in Jerusalem one of the world’s best known scholars of the New Testament died, Dominican Father Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, 78. Father Jerry, as he was known, was certainly the best known priest in Jerusalem. He lived with poor health in recent years.

A tall man with a big personality was certainly a force to be reckoned with on all planes. He was certainly a provocative thinker, particularly on Saint Paul, was one who pushed the boundaries; but he was a man of trust in Divine Mystery. Some may say he was a modernist scholar; a keen interest was the real humanity of Jesus, especially as Jesus approached the crucifixion. Hence, you may not agree with all things that he said, but one would hope that you’d do your own research and draw your own conclusions, but you can’t dismiss out of hand professional and honest work. I certainly think history will show us that JMC was a on to something.

His last book was, Keys to Jerusalem: Collected Essays (Oxford, 2012).

I met Father Jerry at University of Notre Dame several years ago while he was there doing some teaching and lecturing in NT studies.

Several articles ought to be read:

May God be merciful to Father Jerome. May Our Lady and Saint Dominic guide Father to the Beatific Vision.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory