Eamonn Keane
Fr Ted Tyler's e-book: Understanding the Bible and applying it to life
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By Eamonn Keane
July 21, 2011

Western Civilization owes much of its great achievements to three pillars upon which it was built. These pillars are: i) The great Greek philosophers such as Aristotle who bequeathed to us a respect for human reason's capacity to raise and answer questions of ultimate significance; ii) The Roman understanding of the necessity of the rule of law as a barrier to the exercise of brute force as a means of resolving conflicts of interest between citizens; iii) The Judaic-Christian understanding of the dignity of the human person made in the image and likeness of an all good and loving God.

The Bible — Encounter with God and his plan of salvation

A central element in the development of the Judaic-Christian religious and moral tradition has been the Holy Bible, or Sacred Scripture as it is otherwise referred to. Being made in the image of God and called to eternal communion with him, the human person has in his heart a deep desire to know and love God: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you" (St. Augustine, The Confessions, bk.1, chap. 1).

The desire for God finds expression in the way human beings are inclined to ask questions about the meaning of life such as: Where did I come from and who am I? When I want to do good, why do I often do what is evil instead? What is the meaning of suffering? Is life ultimately absurd, ending in death as the end of love and total annihilation; or can we reasonably hope for life beyond death?

To aid us in our quest for the truth about our human existence, God progressively revealed to us the truth about his inner life, together with the truth about the dignity and vocation of the human person. This revelation by God reached its fulfilment in the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In the Holy Bible, God reveals his plan for our salvation. It tells us of God's reaching out to us and adopting us in Christ as his sons and daughters. The Old Testament tells us how God began to progressively reveal his loving plan for our salvation through Abraham, Moses and the Prophets. The New Testament tells us how God brought this plan to completion in the words and deeds of Jesus. Hence, Jesus Christ is the centre of Sacred Scripture, all of it is directed towards him and finds its fulfilment in him.

While God used human authors to put his revelation into writing, it is the Holy Spirit however who is the principal or chief author of the Holy Bible. This means that the various books of the Old and New Testaments have in all their parts God as their author.

The Bible and the Catholic Church

A fourth element that has contributed significantly to the building of Western civilization has been the Catholic Church. The central act of prayer and worship for Catholics is the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass. This is why the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) referred to the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life. The Eucharistic celebration, or the Holy Mass as it is otherwise called, has two main components: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

At the centre of the Liturgy of the Word are the readings from the Holy Bible. These readings are followed by a commentary or homily on them by the presiding priest. The purpose of this commentary is to explain the Scriptures so that those in attendance might internalise their message and apply it to daily life. The question of interpretation of the Holy Bible becomes vital once we recognise that any particular passage of Sacred Scripture may not easily lend itself to correct interpretation. St. Peter, for example, warns us concerning difficulties that can arise in interpreting the writings of St. Paul. He says: "There are some things in them (i.e. the writings of St. Paul) hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16).

The Second Vatican Council taught that the first requirement for the correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture is that it "be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written" (Dei Verbum 12): Drawing on the teaching of Vatican II in this regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) provides three criteria by which such an interpretation may be arrived at: i) To "be especially attentive to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture," ii) That Sacred Scripture be read "within the living Tradition of the whole Church," iii) To "be attentive to 'the analogy of faith' which means that we must recognise the coherence of the truths of faith among themselves and within the whole plan of Revelation" (cf. CCC 112-114).

Fr. Ted Tyler's e-book

A wonderful aid to our understanding of the Holy Bible and its application to daily life is a new e-book recently published by Rev Fr. Ted Tyler titled Son of God: The Daily Gospel Year A-1. The book contains the Gospel text for the Holy Mass for every day of the year A-1 (2011) together with a 750-word commentary on each text. The book can be downloaded free of charge from the internet. Fr. Tyler is also preparing next year's book for Year B-2. It will be put to air at the end of this coming October before the new liturgical year.

Fr. Tyler, who is a Catholic priest in the diocese of Parramatta in Australia, is well qualified to comment on the Holy Bible. He has been a Catholic priest for 40 years and served in areas as diverse as the Andes mountains in South America and parishes in New South Wales in Australia. A truly learned pastor with various degrees, he completed his PhD on the works of Blessed John Henry Newman.

All forms of the e-book are available at http://catholic-thoughts.info/ebook/ Fr Tyler has generously allowed me to reproduce below a section of his e-book. For those who want to know more about the Sacred Scriptures and how they can deepen our prayer and motivate us to try to live more authentically as Christians in the world, I cannot recommend this e-book highly enough.

Fr Tyler's e-book comes in three forms for different e-reading devices:

    1. As an Adobe PDF file for computers which displays two-pages side-by-side like a conventional book. This type of display suits the landscape aspect ratio of a computer screen. The Adobe PDF reader software required to read this e-book is free and widely available on the internet.

    2. As an Adobe PDF file for e-readers and i-phones which displays a single page at a time. This type of display suits the portrait aspect ratio of an e-reader, and maximises the print size of the text. Almost all e-readers have the software to display PDF files.

    3. As a DNL file which is suitable for use on computers but not on e-readers. This type of file displays the e-book as two-pages side-by-side like a conventional book, and simulates the page turning action to give it the look of a paper book. The DNL file may be downloaded in two forms: a small form which requires access to an on-line DNL reader, or a larger form of the file which includes the DNL reader software. This latter form of the file can be read on computers not connected to the internet.

Sample Reflection from Fr. Ted Tyler's e-book

The Annunciation of the Lord (March 25)

The Annunciation was the moment when St. Gabriel the Archangel told Mary she would be the Mother of the Son of God. Mary, also a daughter of God, gave her "Fiat" (Be it done), by which she conceived the Saviour by the working of the Holy Spirit. Christians can always find meaning in this dialogue in which our Lady appears to us so humble yet so great. Through her consent to God's plans, she took part in the whole redemptive work of her Son, Jesus. We venerate her as the Mother of Christ and our Mother.

Scripture today: Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10; Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11; Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel entered and said to her "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you: blessed are you among women." Mary was troubled at hearing this said, and asked herself what this salutation might mean. The angel said to her: "Fear not, Mary, for you have found favour with God. Behold you will conceive and bear a son and will call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High. The Lord God will give to him the throne of David his father; and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. Of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary said to the angel: "How will this happen, since I know not man?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One born of you will be called the Son of God. And behold your kinswoman Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth month with her who is called barren. For nothing is impossible with God." Mary said: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

The announcement The event described in this Gospel passage is celebrated by the Church as the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. The coming of the Messiah is announced by the angel Gabriel to the virgin Mary and her consent to be mother of the Messiah is requested. The angel is sent by God and he enters the presence of the young woman, presumably in her early teens. She is a young girl, but consider the respect with which he, this august emissary from God's throne, greets her. Hail, he says, you who are full of God's grace and favour. The Lord is with you! (Luke 1:26-38) There is unfeigned praise in the angel's simple and sober salutation. He gazes on this holy girl with love and respect for the one so specially the object of God's care and choice. Perhaps he is smiling as he speaks, assuring her not to fear at hearing his momentous words. She is, he says, filled with the favour and grace of God. Without any qualification the Lord is with her. There is nothing in her heart and soul which separates her from him, nothing which represents or is a cause of God's disfavour or displeasure. These words of pure praise come from heaven, and they surely express the joy of God in one who has responded and will respond so faithfully to his grace.

If, through the angel, God thus addresses and considers Mary, so should we. Hail Mary, we ought often pray. You who are full of grace, the Lord is with you! In these simple words of the angel we are given an inkling of the singular place in heaven occupied by the mother of the Messiah and Son of God. How constantly, then, we ought pray to her and especially at the hour of our death when we go before him who is our Judge! The words the angel addressed to Mary are words we ourselves ought repeatedly address to her, as we strive to imitate her divine Son. Not only do the angel's words tell us about her. Her own words in response tell us more. Once she understands what God is asking, her obedient consent is total. In her obedience, she is our model.

But of course the angel had come not simply to render praise to Mary for her obedience and gifts of grace, but to speak to her about the great One who is to come. The angel is announcing the Gospel. He is announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ, and on God's behalf is doing so to the one who is to be mother of the Messiah. The Messiah is at this very point about to come. He is about to be conceived in the virgin's womb. Such is the plan of the Most High and the angel has come to ask the virgin's consent. Does she accept? Does she accept what God has willed, with all that this will entail in the years to come? The angel proceeds to give to the virgin more information about him who is soon to be conceived. God has chosen his name. She will call him Jesus. He will be "great," great without any qualification. He will be absolutely great, whatever might be the estimation of men. God is great, and this One will be "great." Indeed, he will be the "Son of the Most High." How great he is, then! He is the Messiah long promised and God will give to him the throne of David. There is more still, for he will actually rule as king forever. He will, then, be the King of kings and Lord of lords, for of his kingdom there will be no end. Further, the Child will be "the Holy One" — and we recall that in the Scriptures the Holy One of Israel is Yahweh himself. It would seem to be an intimation that in this Child who is the Holy One, God himself is coming to establish his eternal Kingdom. The revelation then deepens. This "Holy One" is "the Son of the most High" and the "Son of God." There are, then, three Persons. There is the Most High. There is also the Son of the Most High, and there is also the Holy Spirit by whose power he will be born of the Virgin. The angel, therefore, is not only revealing that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God, but that the one and only most high God is three distinct Persons. He is the most High. He is the Son of the most High, and he is the Holy Spirit. The angel is granting to the virgin Mary a revelation of the mysteries of the Incarnation and of the Blessed Trinity. Mary is the first to hear the Gospel and she totally believes. She is the model of faith and obedience.

Let us keep before our gaze the figure of the virgin with her child. The one who is full of grace holds him who is the source of grace. The Lord God is with her, indeed he is being held in her arms. She is the first and greatest Christian, the servant par excellence of the Lord. She is his mother and he has given her to us to be our mother and model in the order of grace. She is the help of Christians. Let us pray to her repeatedly, asking her to pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

© Eamonn Keane

 

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Eamonn Keane

Eamonn Keane is married with five children. He studied Commerce and Education at the National University of Ireland and Religious Education at the Catholic Teachers Training College in Sydney, Australia. He currently serves as Head of Social Science at Sydney's Redfield College... (more)

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