One of the wonderful treasures of the Catholic faith in the Roman Rite is the Lectionary.
Every Sunday the congregation hears large chunks of Scripture selected from different parts of the Bible, from both the Old and New Testaments:
1. Old Testament passage
3. New Testament Epistle
4. Gospel Reading
The Readings selected for each week are usually united by a common theme. This is especially true for the Old Testament passage and the Gospel Reading. The brilliance of this arrangement is that it shows the unity between the Old and New Testaments. As the great Early Church Father, St. Augustine, wrote:
“The New Testament is hidden in the Old and the Old is revealed in the New”
- St. Augustine of Hippo, “Quaestiones in Heptateuchum” 2.73
However, as good as this arrangement is, I have found that it can lead to certain difficulties. In particular, Catholics can sometimes have difficulties understanding how the Readings they hear on Sunday relate to the respective books of Scripture from which they are drawn, and also how those books fit into the the New Testament as a whole.
What can be done to address this problem? Well, when leading small Bible study groups, I always begin by asking those present to walk me through their New Testament’s “Table of Contents” page. I do this because, as with most things, once one comprehends the overall structure of something, the contents becomes less intimidating and more memorable because one already understands the framework and context in which that content has been placed.
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