Objective: To foster a closer relationship with Jesus through a deeper acquaintance with Lenten themes in Scripture.

Lent is a popular time for adult education in the parish. People look for ways to update and deepen their faith. Offering a seasonal Scripture study program will meet their need for a Bible-based spirituality. Participants will develop a better understanding of the Scripture passages they hear at Mass. The five-week course suggested here presumes that no session will be held during Holy Week.

A five-week course would include:

Sin in the Bible: the Path away from God By Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. N0296

Sin is a word not often heard today. This Scripture from Scratch helps modern believers understand the concept of sin as it develops in the Hebrew Scriptures and throughout the Christian Scriptures. As Witherup explains, sin, both personal and communal, remains central to understanding how we grow in our relationship to God.

Exodus and Exile: Shaping God's People By Virginia Smith. N0295

The experience of Exodus created the core of Hebraic ethical and moral law and brought the people of Israel into a new understanding of the nature of their God and their relationship with that God. The Exile marks the anguished end of their autonomy as the defeated Israelites are banished from their land and marched off to faraway Babylon. Both concepts lend themselves to exploring traditional and profound Lenten themes of desert experiences, journeying, sin, and redemption.

The Passion of Jesus By Ronald D. Witherup, S.S. N0201

The events surrounding the death of Jesus were of such significance to his early followers that some writers speak of the Gospels having almost been written backward. Jesus' public life was explored in an effort to find meaning in his death. All four evangelists approach the topic somewhat differently, as Witherup demonstrates, depending in part upon the audience for whom they wrote.

Who Killed Jesus? By Daniel Harrington, S.J. N0399

This is an important but delicate question for Christians, especially in light of tragic responses that have been given to it in the past. Harrington gives a thoughtful and careful answer to the question, showing how to read the Passion narratives with a critical and historical awareness.

The Cross Makes a Christian By Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P. N0397

Jesus' death by crucifixion had a profound impact on the early Church and the development of its theology. Murphy-O'Connor examines the consequences of that impact in light of their influence today.

Other appropriate Lenten issues include:

John's Jesus Story: 'Come and See' By Virginia Smith. N0897

This issue introduces the spiritual and theological themes of the Fourth Gospel...the wonderful world of colorful characters, picturesque phrasing, and tantalizing themes quite unlike any other biblical writings. This gospel invites the reader to "come and see" Jesus and become a committed disciple. Although John's gospel is not given a specific place in the cycles of Sunday readings, it appears from time to time during the liturgical year, notably during the Lenten and Easter seasons. Parishes using the Year A Lectionary readings in conjunction with their initiation programs will find this issue particularly helpful.

When the Prophets Roared for Justice By Virginia Smith. N0298

The primary role of a biblical prophet was quite simple: to serve as a mouthpiece for God. To these frequently beleaguered persons fell the unenviable task of being Israel's conscience, of reminding the straying Israelites of their covenant obligations, of recalling for a forgetful people the real implications of being God's chosen people.

Baptism's Biblical Roots By Carolyn Thomas, S.C.N. N0200

Almost since Christianity's origins, baptism has been deeply connected with the time leading up to Easter. Vatican II revived the ancient catechumenate in a contemporary way. Throughout Lent, the catechumens prepare to be baptized into their faith at the Easter Vigil and encourage the baptized to re-examine their own baptismal commitment as well. Carolyn Thomas traces the biblical background of this most universal of Christian initiation rites and reviews its meaning and importance in the Church today.

Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus By Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, O.P. N0300

Jerusalem is an especially holy site, sacred to all three of the world's great monotheistic religious faiths. For Christians, Jerusalem represents, among other things, the place where Jesus suffered, died, and rose. Murphy-O'Connor, a longtime resident of the city, is uniquely qualified to take readers back in time to visit the Jerusalem of Jesus' day.

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Scripture from Scratch Mini-Courses

Catholic Approach to Scripture
Hebrew Scriptures
Morality and Justice
Nature of God