I just finished reading To Be Like Jesus: Inspiration From the Gospel of Luke, sent to me by The Catholic Company. The book offers a series of the reflections on the Gospel passages for Cycle C of the Sundays in Ordinary Time that are taken from Luke’s Gospel. The author’s intent is that one will read one reflection each week in preparation for Sunday Mass during Cycle C.
I am always interested in books like this both because my own prayer frequently involves praying with Scripture and because I am always looking for prayer resources to recommend to those for whom I provide spritiual direction or who attend retreats I give. There is much that I liked about this book.
First, the book starts with an important reminder that the purpose of engaging with Scripture is to “draw closer and closer” to Jesus, not to get information. I find myself making this point over and over when talking to people about praying with Scripture. Our aim is not to learn factual truths, but to experience Jesus. To use the words of the grace of Week Two of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, we seek when we read the Gospels to grow to know, love and follow Jesus more closely by gaining an interior knowledge of Him.
Second, scattered throughout the book is much good advice about reading, praying with and listening to scripture. Among the many important points made is the reminder to not read or listen to a piece of scripture with the attitude, “Oh, I know that one,” which causes us to miss what God might be trying to convey to us. Another is the importance of looking at the context to help understand a passage better, including the incident or teaching that precedes the passage in question. Another simple point is the recommendation to read a passage out loud.
Third, the book emphasizes in different places the importance of getting in touch with God’s love for us. The author conveys the important truth that we can not “begin to love others as God would wish” unless we “walk in confidence of God’s love.”
Finally, I found a number of the reflections on individual passages to be quite good. In some cases they brought me to different places than when I have prayed with the passages before, something that I always appreciate.
I’m glad to have read this book and think others will find it a good aid during the cycle in which we hear Luke’s Gospels proclaimed.
Something you said here struck a chord — reading/praying scripture not so much to learn facts but to experience and get to know Jesus. I love to read. Always have (ever since I can remember knowing how to read when I was 5 or 6). I find that I can lose myself in a good book. Get into the story. Live through and with the characters. So much the better to be able to read scripture and be drawn into the experience in this way.