“Read the Gospel of Luke like a novel instead of the way you read Scripture.” –Fr. Larry Hennessey
This was the advice given to me by my spiritual director. Something interrupted me at the end of Chapter 8 or I would have not put the Gospel down. I kept thinking to myself, “What is this guy going to do next!” That “guy” is and was Jesus Christ the Messiah, Our Savior.
Reading the Gospel of Luke like a novel opened my eyes to Jesus as a person. He is bold, decisive, driven, exhausted, bears no fools, takes on bullies and jerks, always keeps the principle of the situation in front of him, as well as all the stuff we usually say: raises the dead, teaches with authority, has concern for the poor, etc. He is a man to whose leadership I would be drawn. In fact, I wouldn’t want to leave his side because there is a certain rebellious goodness to him that I love in people.
Reading the Gospel like a novel drew me into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
This Sunday, we will hear Jonathan Mathews speak about Scripture and how we can start reading Scripture and what Scripture has meant to him in his life. Scripture is the Second Pillar of Stewardship about which we will hear during our campaign, Stewardship: A Deeper Relationship with Jesus.
Jesus is, in fact, the key to understanding the Scriptures. We say in our Catechism, Q.-21 that the summary of the Old Testament is that God has promised a Divine Savior who would lead us to salvation. So, the Old Testament points us toward Jesus and the New Testament is the account of the fulfillment of the summary of the Old Testament.
Reading the Gospel of Luke as a novel really drove that home to me. These were faithful people, Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, and Zechariah, who sang out of joy for the fulfillment of the promise to their people hundreds, even thousands, of years before their own life. I loved them more than ever because I see those same people raising their hands in praise on Sundays in our own church. I loved them more because I hear the confessions of people just like them: those who are courageously trying to live this faith with a sincerity and integrity that is mind-blowingly admirable and inspiring.
So, on a personal level, reading Scripture opened up a whole new reality about the people about whom the Gospel was written. These are my brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers of the faith and I could love them all the more. It also, by the way, took away what reticence I had about singing in church as the priest: if they could do it, so could I. That was a huge thing for me personally. Singing has now become a larger part of my devotional life. I now sing to the Lord in a room where others might say I am “by myself.” Because I have introduced singing into my devotional life it has caused me to understand even more how real Christ’s presence is in prayer (the First Pillar of Stewardship).
I invite you to make reading Scripture part of your daily devotional time. Try five to ten minutes a day. For those with children, tell them that just like you need to spend time with them, you need to spend time with the Holy Spirit for ten minutes and it should not be interrupted unless they want to participate. During that time, if you sing, sing, but be sure to read. Let the events on the pages unfold before you as your relationship with Christ is deepened and unfolds your heart.
Stewardship Month is not just about money. It is about re-examining our relationship with the Lord and challenging ourselves to love God more. Then, to hold ourselves accountable, we fill out the Stewardship Promise so we can track our progress. That will happen on October 31 at www.newpaltzchurch.org/stewardship/