Appendix 6: A Project for Bible Reading during the Formation Process

Appendix 6

A Project for Bible Reading during the Formation Process

I.  Distribution of Bible readings in the different stages of formation

Stage Reading No. of Pages
1.         Youth & Vocation Ministry Acts of the Apostles 46
2a. Prenovitiate
(Year A)
Mk and parallels in Mt, (chs. 3-4, 8-9, 12-22, 24; 26-28) & Lk (3:1-6:19, 8:1-9:50, 19:27-24-53) 73

 

2b Prenovitiate

(Year B)

The Prayer of Jesus (psalms) & its Project in Mt (chs. 1-2, 5-7,10-11, 23, 25) & Lk (chs. 1-2, 6:20-7:50, 9:51-19:27) 174
3.         Novitiate Gospel of John; Paul (from Romans to 2 Thessalonians) 117
4a. Postnovitiate Pentateuch 215
4a. Postnovitiate

“Former Prophets” & Apocalyptic

230
4a. Postnovitiate “Latter Prophets” 277
5.Time of Pastoral Experience “Word-Mission” Project
6a.Preparation for Ministry (Year A) Historical Books of Greek canon yet; Pastoral and Catholic Epistles and Hebrews. 250
6b.Preparation for Ministry (Year B) Wisdom Literature and Baruch 230

           

II.  Brief Explanation of Each Stage

       1.   For the stage of Youth-vocation Ministry we propose reading the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This could be approached from the angel of “Heroes of the Spirit.” In this way the approach to the main biblical personages would be concretely embodied in the first evangelizers of the Christian community: Mary at Pentecost and the protagonists of evangelization: Peter and John in Jerusalem, Peter and Philip in Samaria, and Paul to the ends of the earth. But the text also provides the possibility of directing attention to some lesser figures throughout the first stage of Christian expansion.

      Likewise, the discourses in Acts allow for a connection with a reading of the Bible in a missionary key and a chance to initiate a method for integrating Life-Word-Commitment.

      The interest focused on the first missionary community also makes it possible:

      –    To favor an identification with life in community as a demand of the Christian life.

      –    To get to know and assume apostolic models that give identity to the group.

      –    To help the young men to have an experience of community life based on the biblical models of the first Christian community.

       2.   In the Postulancy, we would endeavor to help the young men mainly to approach the person of Jesus, and then to His prayer and project. Thus, there would be two successive periods, to wit:

            2.1. A first period focuses on the Deeds of Jesus, based on the Gospel of Mark and its parallels in Matthew and Luke. In this way we can lay stress on docility to the God who reveals himself to us (aspect of following a Person). On this level we should discover the Word as operative and as the origin of our vocation, and this provide elements for drafting our own autobiography, taking into account the impact that the Word of God has had on it.

            2.2. A second period deals with the Sayings of Jesus (Q source) presented in Matthew and Luke, and to the distinctive material of each of these. In it we must dwell on the need for us to take up the Project of Jesus with a missionary sensibility that leads the postulant to discover God in the reality of the poor and the marginalized.

       3. During the Novitiate, we should stress the element of union with Christ and this to focus attention on all the Johannine and Pauline accounts, taking them up as vocational texts for reading and meditation.

      Starting from them we should strive:

      – To study and comment on the biblical foundations of the RL in general and of the vows in particular.

      – To study the biblical texts most characteristic of Claret’s experience.

      – To personalize and internalize the values presented in the gospel accounts.

       4.   In the stage of the Professed we could distinguish three levels:

            4.1. On the first level, the Pentateuch is the main object of reading. From it the professed could achieve the objective of gaining a greater esteem for cultures, especially their own, out of which God speaks to them, and for the evangelizing potential of their people (culture, religiosity…).

            4.2. On the second level, they should try to undertake a reading of the “Former” Prophets and of Apocalyptic, harmoniously integrating “History, Law and Worship” in such a way that they can achieve objectives proper of this stage, such as:

            – Making the Word hold a relevant place in both personal and community plans.

            – Giving the Word a relevant place in the community project.

            – Favoring signs in the liturgy that highlight the Word as a gift of God.

       5.   For the Pastoral Year no text is proposed as an object for reading, since it is proposed that the formandi should participate in the Word-Mission Project of the community in which they are carrying out their experience.

       6.   The Final Stage includes two levels, to wit:

             6.1. A first level, covering the historical books of the Greek canon, the Catholic and the Pastoral Epistles, and Hebrews, with an emphasis on:

            – Giving pride of place to studying the Word as the grounding of ministries.

            – Having recourse to the Claretian-charismatic biblical sources that throw light on the exercise of ministries.

            – Qualifying future ministries with a view to the service of the Word.

            – Embodying the dynamisms of the Word in Evangelization.

            6.2. A second level, dealing with “Wisdom Literature,” taking care:

            – To integrate the Word explicitly in all moments of life.

            – To perceive the voice of the Christian community and its situation in the world as words of God.

            – To carry out and evaluate the community apostolic project as witnesses of the Word through which we are sent.

            – To embody the dynamisms of the Word in Evangelization.

            – To provide peak moments of sharing with one another on the horizon of Mission.

III. Operative way of developing Bible reading in the stages of formation

 

      Offering nine yearly outlines in each of which the following structure is involved:

0.   The preparation of outlines will be managed by teams of formators and a biblical specialist. What counts here is basically the work of the biblical specialist.

1.   A paragraph (a brief, five-line one) on a situation of the formandi that orients them in their personal reading.

2.   Two guideline pages for personal reading that will:

a)   Help them take into account the interrelationship between persons, key words and images in the text.

b)   Provide them with information on literary genres present in the passages and on historical settings of the accounts in their origin, development and textual outcome.

c)   Lead them to read Claretian themes connected with the text.

3.   An outline for a community meeting which will offer:

a)   Questions aimed at an explicit statement of the situational-existential key of the formandi.

b)   A deeper probing of the message of the Word that each of the formandi has gathered, taking into account what was said in n. 2.

c)   Whenever possible, some guidelines for celebration.

 IV. An example of guideline pages for reading

 1.   Objective: To attend to the initial crises involved in changing to a new lifestyle and to learn how to find a response within the vocational horizon of the preaching of the Kingdom of God.

2.   Text for personal reading: Mk 1:1-3:7.

3.   Guideline for personal reading

 1.   Literary Level

       1.1. The “goings-out’: Of who are we told that they “go out”? What does Jesus go out for?

      1.2. The miracles of Jesus: In the Gospel, the miracles are a revelation of Jesus and his power, and a sign of the inbreaking of the Reign of God. The narration of a miracle consists of the following elements: a) people who come to Jesus, b) an illness, c) a healing gesture, d) an instantaneous healing and e) the praise of the people. A variant of the healing miracles are exorcisms, which express the victory over evil. In them, the healing gesture is transformed to an order given in the account, such as “he commanded” or “he ordered” or explicitly stated by the use of an imperative: “be silent!” Bearing in mind what we have said of miracles and exorcisms, what relationship exists between the “going out” of Jesus and the “going out” of the demons?

      1.3. Paradigms are another form of account involving exemplary situations that throw light on aspects of Christian life. They are short narratives to which one could have recourse as an example in preaching. They do not have an introduction or conclusion, nor do they offer biographical details or personal traits of those who intervene in them. They want to have the believer assume the attitudes that are related and they highlight some words or statements of Jesus. If the situation being considered is the birth of the Christian life, they are called vocational paradigms. Which vocational paradigms do you find in these passages? In them, what does Jesus do as he passes by, and whom does he invite? What task does he call them to? What does the person called do?

      1.4. We also find controversy stories: An unaccustomed action gives rise to an aggressive question on the part of Jesus’ adversaries, who are met with a response that makes them shut up. In the controversies, revolutionary practices of the community are defended. What themes are disputed in the second chapter? What relationship do these controversies or disputes have to the going-out of the Pharisees and Herodians?

 2.   Historical Level

       2.1. Writing, Memory and Deed: In the gospel text we must strive to distinguish between the historical lifetime of Jesus, the time of transmission of his teaching and the time in which the evangelist wrote.

      2.2. The situation of Palestine before 70 A.D. It was under Roman domination. There were differences between Galilee and Jerusalem: Galilee was a over-exploited and impoverished region. Production was aimed at providing the luxury items that Rome needed. The landowners, who usually lived in Rome or in Jerusalem, are not concerned with improving the land, but of making a profit from it. Small landowners were in debt and often had to hand over their lands. The sea or lake of Galilee was over-exploited, and this made life hard for fishermen. In contrast, Jerusalem enjoyed a certain prosperity, deriving from the Temple and from religious pilgrimages. Consequently, whereas the inhabitants of Jerusalem were more or less content with their situation, those of Galilee were deeply discontent. Added to this were their religious difference: From the standpoint of official Judaism, Galilee was hardly commendable, due to the presence of a transient population (hence, called “Galilee of the Gentiles”), whereas Jerusalem was the religious center and depository of the most orthodox religious tradition. Nevertheless, Jerusalem and its religious did not cease to have a certain religious influence over Galilee, through the synagogues mentioned in the text.

      2.3. The text also mentions distinct groups: publicans, scribes, Pharisees, Herodians. The last two groups had their own quite different ways of viewing reality (ideologies), which we need to know about, along with the views of the Sadducees, Zealots and Essenes.

      – The Herodians were functionaries of the court of Herod, and were assimilated to the reality of the Roman Empire.

      – The Sadducees were a group made up of the high priests and the great landholders of Jerusalem. They were resigned to the dominion of Rome, from which they sought the right to rule under their own laws (those written in the Pentateuch, although few of them were rigorously applied).

      – The Pharisees were a “spiritualist” group that looked forward to an independent government, which could only be obtained from God through the fulfillment of the Law. Hence they were devoted to studying the Law and deducing other laws from it. This “intellectual” stamp meant that most of the scribes belonged to this class. They held the ordinary people in contempt, and their concern for legal purity led them to exclude lepers and physically handicapped persons.

        – The Essenes were completely opposed to the officialdom of Jerusalem and hence withdrew into the desert. Although it is not certain that John the Baptist was an Essene, in the Gospel according to Mark (as opposed to the remarks of Jn 3:22,26 and 3:23 and of St. Epiphanius on the Ebionites) he seems to have many of their traits: withdrawal to the desert with recourse to Is 14:3, confession of sins, eating locusts. Perhaps, in the time of the evangelist, this assimilation was aimed at attracting the Essenes to the Christian community.

        – Finally, also in opposition to Rome, we find the Zealots, violent revolutionaries who resisted the use of Roman money and fought to obtain independence. A little before the year 70, they took power in Jerusalem and granted a general amnesty of debts for small landowners. Mark writes shortly before the Zealot rebellion, in the times of the fanatical conflicts between them and their Roman adversaries. Perhaps this is why the demon (of power) is always connected with the synagogue, except in ch. 5, where he connected with the Romans by the name “Legion.” Moreover, the people referred to the Romans as “swine.”

        The Publicans were in charge of collecting taxes for Rome. They, along with prostitutes, were scorned as an irredeemable class, incapable of repentance and hence as renegades from the people of God. The intervention of Jesus on their behalf is recalled in order to show that his community incorporated non-Jews, together with more or less nationalistic Jews (James and John had Jewish names, whereas Peter and Andrew were Jews with Greek names).