Pope Benedict XVI began a “marathon of Bible reading” on live Italian television on Sunday, October 5, while encouraging people world-wide—Catholics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and all others—to spend some time with this sacred book. The first night of reading ending with Academy Award winning actor Roberto Benigni concluding the Book of Genesis that the Pope had began.
Organizers of the event stressed that “the Bible belongs to everyone without any discrimination or cultural or ideological barrier.” The marathon will end Saturday with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of State of the Vatican, reading the 22nd chapter of the Book of Revelation.
Can you parallel the event with your students this or another week in class? Perhaps you can encourage different readers of the Bible to read from start to finish as part of school-wide broadcast or even combined with a fundraiser for a good cause.
Or, you can simply encourage your students to begin a personal Bible reading plan. Here’s are three ideas from Encountering Jesus in the New Testament.
1. Read the New Testament for ten minutes a day. Use one of the following techniques for prayer and study:
Study an individual book using a good commentary. The Collegeville Bible Commentaries are outstanding because they are simple and clear and include the text of the New American Bible. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary is also excellent. Additionally, the New American Bible offers commentary notes within the pages of the New Testament.
Study a particular New Testament theme by reading all the various passages that treat it. A concordance will help you locate all the places where the theme occurs. Some examples of major New Testament themes include Kingdom of God, faith, love, friendship, salvation, forgiveness, conversion, and witness.
Choose New Testament passages at random. Refer to biblical commentaries and dictionaries to get further background on what you have chosen for the day.
2. Pray for ten minutes each day using the New Testament. Select a favorite passage, for example, the parables or the miracles or the Sermon on the Mount. After calming down and putting yourself in the Lord’s presence, read the passage as though the Lord is speaking directly to you. Engage all your senses in the scene of the passage. Imagine that these verses are written specifically for you. Listen to what they are saying. Reflect on them as if the Lord is sitting next to you.
3.Form a Scripture study group with some friends in school or in your parish. Meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Study an entire book of the Bible together. Ask an interested teacher, parent, youth minister, or priest to guide you.