Fired up by Fr. Domenico's enthusiastic promotion, I took home one of his "Read the Bible in a Year" sheets. I decided I should, and I could do this! The next morning, in the cold light of day I began to have my doubts and realised, actually, this is some commitment, how on earth am I going to find the time? The usual head battle ensued about why I couldn’t!
In the end I concluded that when you love someone, finding time to be with them or in contact with them, is not difficult. We go out of our way to make time; we reschedule and reprioritise our lives. So why approach our relationship to Our Lord any differently? This may result in a need to review the amount of TV we watch, spend less time on social media or trawling the internet, or if we can, get up a bit earlier in the morning. My answer was to read during my lunch break at work where possible, and when not, in the evenings, estimating around 20 - 30 minutes a day.
So, I made a start. 1/7/2018. Genesis, wow what an opener. It has it all. Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, a string of attention-grabbing epic stories. How had I not read all this before? Exodus, again a lot of arresting content from slavery, to rescue and redemption, the 10 Commandments, forming the Nation of Israel ...then came Leviticus. Well. It didn't take me long to come to the conclusion that if I could make it through Leviticus, there was a fair chance I would succeed in reading the whole Bible. And I found that throughout the Bible.
Some parts were challenging, others engaging. I love the readings of Isaiah in the church calendar, but found it testing to read the book as a whole, the same with Paul. The amount of war and violence in the Old Testament took me by surprise, but then also, so did the volume of grace, love and forgiveness.
For some years now I have followed the Daily and Sunday mass readings in the church calendar, which cover many parts of the Bible. As I read the Good Book, I realised that there is a lot that isn't covered in the daily readings. I picture it a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, the daily readings are like pieces which when put together form small groups, but there are a lot of gaps to fill in around them to complete the whole picture.
So what was my takeaway in my journey exploring the Bible? So many things! To name a few: I finally put down roots in the Old Testament, developed a love of the Psalms, I began to put the readings I knew and loved into better context, it helped me grow, and increased my desire to progress spiritually, improved my knowledge and prayer life, deepened my relationship with the Trinity – Father , Son and Holy Spirit, and strengthened my faith.
What I liked about the plan I chose was that it had a bit of everything. Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament. I have to admit to being a lightweight, and not managing the Catechism as well! I found that if I was struggling say with the Old Testament (……e.g. Leviticus), that the Psalm and New Testament reading helped to bolster me and keep me on track. There were numerous times when I fell behind due to holidays or days with no slack, and it felt quite stressful at the time, but I caught up and often went ahead of schedule. In fact, I found some of the Old Testament books so engrossing I would read a few days at
a time, sometimes the whole book if not too long.
And yes, I did finish within the year – just! 28/6/2019. And would I do it again? You bet! Even Leviticus!!
Footnote: Having spent 6 weeks on furlough, I discovered that there will never be enough time to do everything I want to do. So, don't put it off and wait until you have time, if you haven't read the Bible in full, just go for it!
Some Interesting Information about how much of the Bible is in the Mass:
Fr. Felix Just, S.J reports that the Sunday and weekday Lectionaries contain:
13.5 percent of the Old Testament (not counting the Psalms)
54.9 percent of the non-Gospel New Testament
89.8 percent of the Gospels
71.5 percent of the entire New Testament
Please see various Bible reading plans below to help you begin your journey.
Julie Knight is married to Steve and lives and works near Inverness.