Proclaim the Word of God: Reading the Bible

Note: This is the beginning of a series of being a lector, who reads the 1st and/or 2nd Scriptural passages at Mass.

Thank you to all who volunteered to read aloud the Old Testament passage or the New Testament passage at Mass at your favorite Catholic Church.

In helping you be a better lector, I want to start first with your spiritual growth before dishing out tips for reading aloud the Scripture passage.

First question: Do you read the Scriptures daily?  If you are, congratulations.  Keep it up.  Maybe you should consider praying with the Scriptures.

If not, I ask that you should.  There is a big difference between reading aloud a text that is just words and reading aloud the Word of God that has power and energy to change lives.  But we can’t proclaim the power of God’s Word when we haven’t allowed it to touch our hearts first.

Which translation to use?  There are dozens of English translations on Bible Gateway.  If you’re seeking a Catholic Bible, you can use the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition or the New American Bible (Revised Edition).  You can go old school by using the Douay-Rheims.

The first place to start is the Gospels.  How well do you know Jesus and His story?  I spent one year reading the Four Gospels repeatedly.  After that, I read the rest of the New Testament.  The next challenge is reading the Old Testament.

Someone can argue, “Why don’t I start at the beginning?”  The danger of trying to reading the Bible from cover to cover is that a reader becomes bogged down in the Book of Leviticus or Numbers and gives up.  We can lose the thread of the beautiful story of salvation.

One suggestion is Jeff Cavins’ Bible Timeline.  Cavins focuses on the 14 narrative books in Bible to follow Salvation History.  You can check out this explanation from his blog.  I encountered the timeline in my Bible study group in Texas before going to the seminary.   It was a big help for me to finish reading the Bible.

Here are the 14 narrative books:

  1. Genesis
  2. Exodus
  3. Numbers
  4. Joshua
  5. Judges
  6. I Samuel
  7. II Samuel
  8. I Kings
  9. II Kings
  10. Ezra
  11. Nehemiah
  12. I Maccabees
  13. Luke
  14. Acts

Once you understand the narrative, you can jump around and focus on the Prophets, the Law, Psalms, Proverbs and Wisdom books, or Apocalyptic books.

Please make a habit of reading Scripture daily.  Follow Matthew Kelly’s suggestion of 5 pages a day.  Goals should challenge us, but they should be doable and manageable.  The Spanish missionary St. Anthony Mary Claret read a chapter of the Bible daily.

One more thing: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand a passage.  He inspired the human authors.  He can help you with His book.

Scripture passages for prayer:

  1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  2. Hebrews 4:12
  3. Nehemiah 8:3

Questions for reflection:

  1. What is your favorite Bible story?  Why does it move you?
  2. What is your favorite Bible verse?  And why?
  3. What do you desire to learn from the Bible?
  4. What can you do to start reading the Scriptures every day?

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