One of the weaknesses of post-conciliar Bible studies and commentaries is their overemphasis on affective questions and discussion. Note that I write overemphasis. There is a place for moods, feelings, and attitudes when discussing Scripture, but a greater focus should be on cognition, content, and doctrine. A resource that strikes the right balance is the renowned Navarre Bible, helpfully indexed to the lectionary by a good soul who distributes it via a Google group. Take today’s Gospel reading for the Feast of the Epiphany, which includes this catechetical nugget in the commentary:

The Council of Trent expressly quotes this passage when it underlines the veneration that ought to be given to Christ in the Eucharist: “The faithful of Christ venerate this most holy Sacrament with the worship of latria which is due to the true God…. For in this Sacrament we believe that the same God is present whom the eternal Father brought into the world, saying of Him, ‘Let all God’s angel worship Him’ (Hebrews 1:6; cf. Psalm 97:7). It is the same God whom the Magi fell down and worshipped (cf. Matthew 2:11) and, finally, the same God whom the Apostles adored in Galilee as Scriptures says (Matthew 28:17)” (Decree, “De SS. Eucharista”, Chapter 5).

Likewise, tomorrow’s, for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, includes another gem:

“Baptizing with the Holy Spirit” refers to the Baptism Jesus will institute and shows how it differs from the baptism of John. In John’s baptism, as in the other rites of the Old Testament, grace was only signified, symbolized. “By the baptism of the New Law, men are baptized inwardly by the Holy Spirit, and this is accomplished by God alone. But by the baptism of John the body alone was cleansed by the water” (St. Thomas Aquinas, “Summa Theologiae, III, q. 38, art. 2 ad 1). In Christian Baptism, instituted by our Lord, the baptismal rite not only signifies grace but is the effective cause of grace, i.e. it confers grace. “Baptism confers the first sanctifying grace and the supernatural virtues, taking away Original Sin and also personal sins if there are any, together with the entire debt of punishment which the baptized person owes for sin. In addition, Baptism impresses the Christian character in the soul and makes it able to receive the other sacraments” (“St. Pius X Catechism”, 295). The effects of Christian Baptism, like everything to do with the sanctification of souls, are attributed to the Holy Spirit, the “Sanctifier”. It should be pointed out, however, that like all the “ad extra” actions of God (i.e. actions external to the intimate life of the Blessed Trinity), the sanctification of souls is the work of all three Divine Persons.

If you participate in a parish Bible study or discussion group, or are stuck in an RCIA group that relies exclusively on lectionary-based catechesis, you can’t go wrong with Navarre — especially when it’s free.

About these ads