Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Bar 1 — THE BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE (Mk 1:4)
"They wept and fasted and prayed before the Lord, and collected such funds as each could furnish." Baruch 1:5-6
To be freed from exile and the effects of our sins, we must weep, fast, pray, and give alms. This prepares us to make a heart-rending, soul-searching confession in which we clearly take responsibility for our actions.
Prayer: Father, may I soon make the best Confession of my life.
Promise: "The Lord may give us strength, and light to our eyes." 1:12
Bar 2 — WHOLENESS
"O Lord, look down from Your holy dwelling and take thought of us; turn, O Lord, Your ear to hear us." Baruch 2:16
After we confess our sins, we should pray not only for forgiveness but also for deliverance, healing, and restoration.
Prayer: "Hear, O Lord, our prayer of supplication, and deliver us for Your own sake" (2:14).
Promise: "They shall have a change of heart; they shall know that I, the Lord, am their God. I will give them hearts, and heedful ears; and they shall praise Me in the land of their captivity, and shall invoke My name." 2:30-32
Bar 3 — BACK TO THE BIBLE
"Hear, O Israel, the commandments of life: listen, and know prudence!" Baruch 3:9
Most of this chapter praises wisdom, which is identified with the word of God (4:1). When our lives fall apart, we must go back to the basics and back to the teachings of the Church and the Bible.
Prayer: Father, may my house rest securely on the foundation of obedience to Your word (Mt 7:24).
Promise: "Had you walked in the way of God, you would have dwelt in enduring peace." 3:13
Bar 4 — "NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR ITSELF"
"I have trusted in the eternal God for your welfare, and joy has come to me from the Holy One because of the mercy that will swiftly reach you from your eternal Savior." Baruch 4:22
Four times the prophet commands us to fear not (4:21; 4:5; 4:27; 4:30). This command is given 365 times in the Bible once for each day of the year. Jesus said: "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust" (Lk 8:50).
Prayer: Father, may "perfect love (cast) out all fear" in my life (1 Jn 4:18).
Promise: "As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek Him; for He Who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy." 4:28-29
Bar 5 — RAGS TO RICHES
"Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever." Baruch 5:1
Jerusalem changes clothes from the robe of mourning and misery to the splendor of God's glory. The final word is victory, "for God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship" (5:3-4).
Contrast chapter five of Baruch with chapter five of Lamentations. Aren't you glad you read on?
Prayer: Father, clothe me in Christ (Gal 3:27).
Promise: "Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God." 5:5
Bar 6 — IDLE, IDOL, I DULL
"Know, therefore, that they are not gods, and do not fear them." Baruch 6:64
Wouldn't it have been great if Baruch had left well enough alone and not included this letter? It seems to imply that the Jewish people are still enslaved by idol-worship, even if they have been freed from Babylon.
Prayer: Jesus, You alone can free me from Satan's manipulation. I give my life to You.
Promise: "For the just man who has no idols: he shall be far from disgrace!" 6:72
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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