Find out what inspires Paola and Eamon McMorrow to read the Bible with their family and parish.
When Jesus speaks to us in the Gospels, his words illuminate, strengthen, refresh, and clarify. It is the way he spoke to those he encountered in the Gospels, the stories he told, the insights he gave; the prayers he said. Jesus spoke to the people he met about the realities of their own lives. He understood their relationships, their pathways through life, and how they could overcome their own difficulties. Jesus offered a radical vision of how they could enrich their lives and love God in a more meaningful and enlightened way.
He spoke to them about the same issues that we, 2000 years later want to talk about, because that which made their lives real, also make our lives real today. Therefore, we should not shy away from using the Gospels, the words of Jesus, to guide us today in how we might deal with issues in our lives, our families, our parishes, communities and in wider society.
The story of the Good Samaritan is as relevant for us today as it was at the time of Jesus. This story tells us that Jesus saw no barriers between people despite the prevailing hatred of different tribes and groups. We are all, no matter where we come from, no matter what our ethnicity, age, gender, equal in the eyes of Jesus. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, everyone deserves our love and respect, our kindness and our love.
The jealousies, squabbles, selfishness and love we encounter in the story of the Prodigal Son, are as real today as they were then. You can still feel the hurt in the words spoken by the older brother:
‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
There is nothing new in sibling rivalry. How many of us, as parents have been caught between the love we have for one child and another? The heartache of the father caught between the return of his “prodigal” son and the hurt of his dutiful son is raw. Desperate trying to bring his two sons together, the father chooses to celebrate the return of the son, who now has nothing and is at the mercy of his more powerful and angry brother, who owns everything. The deepest hurts seem to lie within the family (whether biological family or spiritual family). Jesus knew very well that this is where the deepest sense of rejection also lies, and sometimes the forgiveness and reconciliation which the Father craves is the last thing on anyone’s mind.
Today we are experiencing a unique situation, we have experienced a pandemic of worldwide proportions, we’ve witnessed tragedy and human courage, selflessness and ingenuity. We have been brought together (mostly via technology) in sorrow and grief, euphoria and joy. After this crisis, the world seems a smaller, more fragile place. How do we re-engage face to face with our families? How do we return to our parishes, our communities? How do we respond to each other? What is the God who speaks saying to us now, at this time and in this place? we think he is saying:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
………(and) Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
Maybe it is the cry of the traveller lying on the road, pleading ‘please help me.’ Or maybe it is the cry of the Father appealing to the hardened heart of the older brother ‘your brother was lost and now he is found’ that we need to listen to. We are called to learn from this pandemic and to be more attentive to each other, just as Jesus showed us in these parables. Many blessings can be had by simply reading and reflecting on these two stories from the bible in the light of our own neighbourhoods.
As we read these stories, let us ask the Holy Spirit to open up our hearts and respond to God’s call. As we physically return to our families and parish communities, we pray that we may be a “found” people, returning to the Father, responding to the cry of our fellow travellers, whether they be in our families, our parishes or our community.
Being inspired by these Bible stories enriches our faith enormously but with so many different Bibles to choose from it’s hard to know which ones will suit our needs. We recommend the following for families to help start you off:
Paola and Eamon McMorrow, Members of the Marriage and Family Life Commission, Northampton Diocese.