Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
April 30, 2020
Today, in Mercy, in our reading from Acts, we meet the Ethiopian eunuch who served the country’s Queen. The man was sitting in a chariot reading the prophet Isaiah. Philip asks him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” Philip’s instruction results in this faith-filled man’s Baptism.
It’s a bible story I’ve loved since I was a novice and read the excellent book by Alexander Jones, “Unless Some Man Show Me”. That long-ago era in my life was a time when Vatican II opened up to the faithful the power and beauty of scriptural study and prayer.
The 1960s were a wonderful time to be committing myself to a life-long spiritual journey. Over the next few years, I devoured the published documents of Vatican II which included the one on sacred scripture, the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” (“Dei Verbum”).
Before Vatican II, like many Catholics, I had had limited experience with scripture. Mainly, we had it read to us at Mass. We had a Bible in my childhood home, but we used it mainly to record familial births and deaths inside the front cover.
Part of the reason for this scriptural vacuum was the long-held belief that most Christians were not theologically astute enough to interpret scripture on their own. Vatican II initiated a blessed change in that perception.
In 1966, the same Alexander Jones, in the company of 27 colleagues, edited the magnificent Jerusalem Bible. My parents gave me this revered book as a gift for my Religious Profession and it has accompanied my prayer for more than a half-century.
Reading the phrase in Acts today, “unless someone show me”, brought the whole sacred journey back to me.
I offer this brief reminiscence to confirm how precious and important it is to build our prayer life on scripture. It is also important to educate ourselves continually by reading good commentary and spirituality. Such thinkers are like Philip in today’s passage. They are the ones who will “show” us, opening to us new understandings for our prayer.
Some of my favorite guides over the years have been:
(I’ll just list ten. There could be a whole other ten if I did this tomorrow🤗)
- Walter Brueggemann
- Elizabeth Johnson
- Thelma Hall
- Macrina Wiederkehr
- Raymond Brown
- Brother David Steindl-Rast
- Sandra Schneiders
- Margaret Farley
- Matthew Fox
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I would love for some of you
(even though you are a shy audience 😉
to list some of your biblical and spiritual guides
in the comment section, if you feel so inclined.
Music: Thy Word – Amy Grant