Living the Faith: The Bible in a Year

Thomas Griffin 2/3/23

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“Murders! Affairs! Betrayal!” My eighth grade CCD teacher tried his best Hollywood sales pitch to hook our class on the Bible. I was all set to open my pink Bible embossed with a cute little lamb and dive into a salacious read until I remembered that my last attempt reading the Bible ended in failure.

My best friend and I had a Bible-reading competition in sixth grade, which got us both to Numbers-Deuteronomy territory before we gave up. Besides being bored by the seeming endless enumeration of names, numbers, and rules, I could not understand how the “Good Book” could contain so many heroes who acted like complete zeroes (check out Gen. 9:20-29). Without a teacher to contextualize the unseemly behavior of figures like Noah, Abraham, and Jacob (aka Israel), or explain the significance of the names and numbers, my Bible went back to being a dust-collector.

Freshman year of college brought with it a New Testament course that should burn in fiery Gehenna for all eternity, and which should have been more accurately named “Lose Your Faith 101.” My fuzzy sixth-grade tour of the Bible gave me a house built on quicksand instead of rock, and I finished the year a complete skeptic. “Enlightened,” I decided to sign up for another course that would further prove that my childhood faith was plain old childish. But God’s sheer paternal goodness rescued me from the fowler’s snare. During the summer, I traveled to Europe to participate in a Catholic fellowship. At the height of my doubt, God placed in my path intelligent people who could articulate, defend, and live out the faith authentically. 

Providentially, the Bible course I took out of spite turned out to be a totally unexpected gift: the professor had us read the Bible as a literary masterwork instead of a tool of the Patriarchy. I finally felt like Tobit (Tobit 11:7-15) and St. Paul (Acts 9:17-19) when the scales fell from their eyes.

After college, I engaged Scripture through daily Mass and the Magnificat. My pesky pride led me to believe that I was getting smarter. The Holy Spirit graciously showed me that my Biblical knowledge still deserved improvement, not a pat on the back, when my sons got The Action Bible as a gift. In a matter of weeks, my kids’ knowledge put me to shame!

Then the Holy Spirit came to the rescue when my friend invited me to listen to the Bible in a Year podcast (BIYP). Though I had been deleting the Ascension Press emails, I decided to join my friend in listening to the podcast. What a gift! Episodes run about 25 minutes, conveniently removing all reasons why a busy person cannot listen. Fr. Mike does all the work: reading up to three different Bible passages, saying a prayer, and offering an explanation—part interpretive key, part reflection. 

He has an uncanny knack for revealing the deeper meaning in the most tedious verses (try tackling Numbers 1 without coffee); giving compassionate counsel when reflecting on the most challenging passages (I am thinking of you, King David); and inviting the listener to see the Bible not as unrelatable and arcane, but rather as a mirror that shows our own ugliness (yikes, Judges). Even Fr. Mike simply explaining that the people in the Bible are trainwrecks helped me reconcile Noah the Hero with Noah the Zero. The only disclaimer is that my eighth grade CCD teacher was right about the Bible being chock-full of scandal: a lot of episodes are not suitable for younger ears!

Listening to BIYP completely transformed my worldview, unlocked the tricky passages, and left

me in awe of how much the Bible is a complete masterpiece. I have fallen in love with Joseph from Genesis, Tobit, Judith, Esther, and the faithful Jews in 2 Maccabees (even though 2 Maccabees makes me squeamish). I cannot get enough of Proverbs, Wisdom, and Sirach. Without BIYP, I would never have found a gem like, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1). Though I had heard the Gospels my whole life, hearing Fr. Mike interpret them has made “all things new” (Rev. 21:5). 

BIYP has been an incomparable blessing, but most importantly, it continues to confirm for me that the Bible’s “words are trustworthy and true” (Rev. 22:6). As Fr. Mike says, “Man-oh-man, what a gift!” Subscribe, press play, and be eternally grateful.

Amanda Bonagura is a stay-at-home mother of 6 children ranging from a teenager to a toddler.

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