The Good News column helps us understand Jesus' Good News
By Father Paul Turner
Catholic Key Scripture Columni
Flip over the back page of The Catholic Key and you'll find good news. You do every week.
Many newspapers thrive on bringing you bad news. The front page will tell you about a man who barbecued a cat. The sports page will astonish you with news of millionaires going on strike. The metro section will give you the terrible details of a local murder trial.
People say they want good news, but bad news sells papers.
In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, though, we have made a commitment to good news. We put it in our paper every week. We devote an entire page to the best good news of all: The Gospel.
That's what the word "Gospel" means. It means "good news."
"The Good News" column of The Catholic Key will soon be starting its 10th year. Throughout that time the writers have worked on a common mission.
The purpose of our column is catechetical. We want to help you understand the Scriptures you'll hear each Sunday at Mass.
The Scriptures can be approached without any background at all. That is the beauty of them. You don't have to be an expert to read the Bible. You don't have to read a single column. Even if you have nothing more than the words on the page, the Bible can speak eloquently to the human heart in any situation.
But the Scriptures can speak to us in deep ways if we know something more about their background. Who were the writers? What was life like for them? Why did they write these books? Who were the original readers? What cultural and sociological situations were they describing?
Scholars have worked hard to answer these questions, and their work fills libraries. It is hard to imagine that the 72 books of the Old and New Testaments have created such an enormous and living world of commentary. New books and articles about the Scriptures appear every year. The commentaries for sale this year will be outdated five years from now. Those who keep current with Scripture study take advantage of the insights that scholars are reaching. But nobody can read everything.
All Christian churches use the same Bible, and the Catholic Church has some of the best Scripture scholars in the business. But being scholars, they often write for other scholars. And there's another whole layer of ministers in the church who need access to this research.
Who needs Scripture scholarship? Homilists, catechists, catechumenate teams, prayer groups, Sunday worshipers and people who pray over the Scriptures at home. But who has time to do the research? Very few of the above.
That's where "The Good News" column steps in. Our writers do homework for you. We study the Scriptures, the commentaries and the liturgical year. We digest that information and think about how it applies to your life this week in this diocese. Then we try to write about it in a way that you can understand.
We don't tell homilists what to preach about. We don't tell catechists how to outline a session. We give you background. We give you a springboard. We hope to act as a bridge between the Bible and your prayer. Our aim is to catechize: to inform your mind and to form your heart.
The six writers bring varied professional backgrounds. Benedictine Abbot Gregory Polan is a Scripture scholar himself and serves on the board of The Bible Today magazine. Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Mary McGlone has taught Scripture and theology and assumed leadership roles with her community. Peg Ekerdt is a pastoral minister at Visitation Parish, who brings her experience of family life and parish life to her research. Biagio Mazza and Denise Simeone both serve our diocesan Center for Pastoral Life and Ministry; they devote their life's work to forming others for ministry while enjoying families of their own at home. I am pastor of two small communities in Northwest Missouri and have authored a number of books and articles on the liturgy.
We work together to bring you good news. It is a happy task. We thank you for your support. We appreciate your encouragement and love to hear your ideas. We pledge to serve you as best we can, and we hope you find many ways to relay the good news to all you meet.
Ten ways to use the Good News Column
AS AN INDIVIDUAL
To deepen your understanding of Scripture.
As a basis for praying the Sunday Scriptures weekly.
To assist in preparing homilies or reflections.
To understand the liturgical link between the seasonal Sunday Scriptures.
To prepare during the week for hearing the Sunday Scriptures and homily.
AS A GROUP
- As a foundation for faith sharing in a small Christian community.
- To break open the Word in a Christian initiation group.
- As a springboard for staff discussion and prayer.
- As a discussion starter in a Scripture study group or adult education class.
- To read as a prayer starter for committee meetings.
- To plan themes for the liturgical and seasonal environment.