National Bible Sunday

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

First reading: Is. 8:23–9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

Second reading: 1 Cor. 1:10–13,17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

Gospel: Mt. 4:12–23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him. He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

In other words 

Fr. Dionisio M. Miranda, SVD (Divine Word School of Theology, Tagaytay City)

As novices we were required an hour of spiritual reading each day: 15 minutes for the New Testament, another 15 minutes for The Imitation of Christ, and half an hour from a spiritual classic. Although my classmates read the Douay-Rheims Catholic edition, I sometimes used the Latin NT to help me concentrate, since the English text had become so familiar you often just ran through it. In theology, the Jerusalem Bible became my favorite because its commentaries helped me appreciate many pericopes better. In Paraguay, the simplified Christian Community Bible was highly useful in my countryside missions. Back home, the Good News Bible became my pocket companion on the road.

For reasons of orthodoxy, bishops have often advised Bible-study groups to limit themselves to texts like the Revised Standard Version or the New American Bible. So, when friends inquire if I would recommend yet another version, my response has always been as follows. It depends on accuracy, on readability, on your interests. Or background; one retiree confessed that he found the Bible for Children more engaging since his education in public schools limited his contact with Scriptures to the readings at Mass.

The question of versions calls to mind past debates on COVID vaccine brands. Many with absolutely no background in pharmacology, the mRNA novelty, clinical trials, statistical probabilities, and so on, suddenly became experts on what worked or did not, which brand was better, what adverse effects were associated with co-morbidities, and so on. Often information came mainly from social media or sound bites from TV or government propaganda designed to disguise its incompetence. Objectors advocated for principled resistance because vaccines were developed using fetal tissue, a moral objection the Vatican assured was inapplicable to the present case. Given the shortage of vaccines in the first place, and given the statistics on morbidity and mortality, the prudent decision became to take whatever was available. No point in making the best the enemy of the good; before certain crises the practical trumps the ideal.

Maybe so with Bible versions too. While debates about orthodoxy are important, ultimately what matters is not a particular edition; the best version is whatever you actually open, read, and guide your life by; what lifts up your spirit and stirs your soul as God’s word. Doctrinal matters are best left to scholars and the magisterium. For ordinary hearers of the Word in search of spiritual nourishment, all that matters is whether the text truly helps you hear Jesus the Living Word, making encounter with him possible, allowing him to become incarnate in your daily life.

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