As a college seminarian, I had the tremendous joy of teaching in the Faith Formation Program at Blessed Sacrament parish in Brooklyn. It was a large program and the students were excited and engaged in the classroom.
Indisputably, the Bible is the Word of God. It is inerrant and inspired by Him, and His Spirit permeates every last letter of every last book contained in it. There is divinity in this collection of ancient texts, but also a very deep humanity.
One of the many signs of the genius of the Church is how often the first reading and Gospel are so perfectly paired.
I have to admit that before writing this, I didn’t know what a terebinth was. It’s right there in the first reading, a word that I’ve surely come across before.
The Gospel given to us by the Church today contains the familiar story of the Good Samaritan, a story with a clear moral message about helping those in need regardless of our personal aversions to them.
All throughout the Old Testament, and very clearly in Revelation, God speaks of the Holy City. From the locked gates of Eden, humanity has longed to return to the place of God’s friendship, an endeavor He encourages and even promises to His faithful people.
“Vernacular” is a word I first heard a long time ago at St. Gabriel School in East Elmhurst, when one of the wonderful Sisters of Charity who taught there told us at the beginning of the prayers with which each school day began that we would no longer be referring to the Third Person of the Trinity as the “Holy Ghost.”
What about the “wow” factor? That’s not an expression biblical scholars often use when we talk about the words and deeds of Jesus in the Gospels, but it’s useful just the same.
My students are just as surprised to learn that the scientist responsible for the Big Bang theory was a diocesan priest from Belgium named Georges Lemaître. I challenge them to rethink their preconceptions of the relationship between religion and science by reflecting on this statement:
The Good News of Christ comes to us in each of our countless vernaculars, in Spanish and Igbo and Kreyòl Ayisyen, in Polish and Tagalog, Korean and Mandarin and in English—just some of the languages in which we praise God in our diocese—and in so many others besides.