Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Understanding Scripture

What a title for a post! My point (which comes at the end) is quite modest. By way of loooong introduction.....

Here and there in the past I have made mention of a men's prayer group I was part for some years. Let me fill in some of the details... The group was started in the fall of 1996 by Fr. Gary Linsky at St. Joseph's parish in Columbia, SC. Some (depending on the week) 12 to 20 men gathered in the basement of the church hall at 6:30 AM on Wednesday mornings. I remember being hesistant before attending my first session. I only went because I had seen Fr. Linsky say Mass and heard his homilies-I thought him trustworthy...but still there was a nagging doubt that we would be holding hands and singing Kum-ba-yah. But not to fear. He taught us how to pray the liturgy of the h0urs and then we would have a free-wheeling discussion on whatever was on our minds (finances, being fathers, confession, etc) or whatever was on his mind. If we missed a meeting, he would grab us after Mass on Sunday and wouldn't let go of us until we promised to show up the following week. He was helping us become truly Catholic men.

My best friends-always those you can and do pray with-were made from this group.

Since Fr. Linsky left (he is now an Air Force chaplain, serving in the Iraq area twice and now, I believe, in Japan) we have had a series of chaplains for the group. With Fr. Kendall, we read "Guardian of the Redeemer" and learned lectio divina. With Fr. Miles we read the Gospel of John, the Book of Revelation, Romans... With Fr. Selzer we learned how to do some contemplation. The current chaplain is Fr. Whitman. One common strain throughout has been the praying of Morning Prayer.

I stopped going to the MPG (as we call it) last August. We had moved out of the city a year before and, between gas prices and other things, I finally stopped attending. But with my new schedule this year, I have returned once again to the MPG. Yesterday was my first day back.

Now, the MPG is reading and meditating on the coming Sunday's readings for Mass. When we meet (now on Tuesdays) we discuss what has struck us and what questions we might have.

(Get ready, we are coming close to the part which concerns the title to this post.)

I had a question yesterday. The link between the Old Testament reading, the psalm, and the Gospel is usually fairly evident. Yet, often the New Testament reading's connection with the others seems non-existant or tenuous at best. So is there a connection and how in the world can you figure it out?

(Note, in particular we were discussing yesterday, the readings for August 13th.) Fr. Whitman suggested that we read the readings in the order which they were written-and then the connection may become more clear. Almost as soon as he said that, (having read the 3 several times before the meeting) I understood the connection between St. Paul's reading for that week with the OT and Gospel-where a moment before it was obscure to me.

Fr. explained it something like this (paraphrasing poorly I am sure): The OT reading is God's preparation for us on some revealation (in this case it had to do with the Eucharist.) The Gospel reveals the truth. The New Testament reading applies the truth, it in some way, to the Christian community.

So, there you go. Never be confused again. But seriously, I had never thought of it in this way. I am glad to be back at MPG.

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

I'm in charge of lectors at my campus's Catholic Student Center, so I'm very familiar with the cycle of readings in the lectionary. The NT readings for ordinary days go straight through each epistle. I always saw the NT reading as disjointed compared to the OT and the Gospel, too, but maybe reading it after the Gospel will help add some context. Thanks for the tip.