Monday, October 31, 2016

Luke: The Gospel of Mercy (Catholic Scripture Study)

If you had to use one word to describe Pope Francis' papacy thus far, it would be mercy. The man is a living embodiment of this word, and believes in it so much that he declared an Extraordinary Jubilee Year with the focus being on mercy. Since the beginning of his papacy, numerous books and even a Bible Study (Doors of Mercy) have been written on him and the subject. Recently, Saint Benedict Press and Catholic Scripture Study released a Bible Study program called Luke: The Gospel of Mercy, which I don't believe to be a mere coincidence. I would like to tell you a little bit about that study program today. The program begins with a guide on how to use your study guide book, an overview of what a typical group session should look like, and a personal checklist of benefits you will receive from this study.

The program is then divided into eighteen lessons - An Introduction to Luke; Annunciation and Visitation; Birth and Childhood; Baptism and Temptation; Mission of Mercy; Call of the Apostles; The Sinful Woman; Child, Arise!; The Good Samaritan; The Rich Fool; The Cure on the Sabbath; The Prodigal Son; Lazarus and the Rich Man; The Pharisee and the Tax Collector; Zacchaeus; The New Covenant; The Good Thief; and the Road to Emmaus. The lessons are a blend of self and group study, and as you can see, not everything from The Gospel of Luke is covered, just the parts that focus heavily on mercy.

Each session is masterfully laid out and flows in a way that keeps the participants engaged and not just sitting idly, watching someone talk. They begin with an introduction and a prayer to give the participants context and firm grounding. There is then a section of study notes to help understand and reflect on the Scriptural passage. These notes are copious in amount, but are divided nicely to prevent confusion. There are then video prompts and question and answer portions for the video selections. The section closes with practical tips on how to live the Gospel, a glossary of words to know, and a closing prayer.

Overall, I found this program to be a very rich and fulfilling study of Luke, specifically the parables of Jesus. The commentary level was extensive, without being overwhelming. The videos were presented in an engaging manner and invited you deeper into the Gospel. I really liked the videos, which were shot in Rome and Assisi, as those are places I have never been but hope to go some day. What I like best about the program is that it doesn't let you be a passive observer. It invites and challenges you to change your life for the better. I have done Bible Study programs before from Saint Benedict Press and Catholic Scripture Study and they have always been solid in content but needed a little help in presentation. They have stepped up their presentation level with this study (both videos and workbook), without sacrificing content, and have given us a definitive study on the Gospel of Luke.

This program was provided to me for free by Saint Benedict Press and Catholic Scripture Study in exchange for an honest review.