2.1 Understanding Faith Sharing (vs.) Bible Study
Faith Sharing and Bible Study
There is a distinct difference between discussions about faith as a lived experience and faith as a set of beliefs. This Men’s Ministry model is rooted in scripture but seeks to use The Word as an entry point for discovering one’s personal experience of God more consciously.
Vatican Council II on Sacred Scripture
“Let the exegetes (scholars of scripture) use every science at their disposal to unlock the words, and when we come to those original experiences, we will find our own”.
Most traditional bible study curriculums focus on the theory and methodology of interpreting biblical texts such as various literary genres, time lines, authorship and intended meaning. Our model brings personal experience to the forefront and uses elements of bible study, mainly as contextual support in helping connect scripture to our present day lives. This is important because men who attend mass but may not have studied the Bible are mainly hearing scripture from the lectionary. Lectionary readings take scripture passages out of their biblical context and put them into the context of the liturgical year. If you read one paragraph from a book you would not claim to have read the entire book, nor would you fully understand the context of one paragraph without knowing what preceded or followed it.
In order to help bridge this gap without suggesting everyone sign up for Bible study classes, we have utilized some of the wonderful Catholic scripture scholarship available to us today. These short exegetical commentaries written by contemporary Catholic clergy, women religious, scholars and teachers help to clearly explain the basic elements of the readings in a way that is supported by our Catholic tradition’s approach to scripture. This contextual approach considers: When is the author writing? What were the beliefs of their day? Who was the intended audience? What issues was the author/authors trying to address?
Forming Discussion Questions:
The questions presented in the sample sessions on this web site are intended to invite the reader think about the intersection of the Gospel texts with their lived experience. The idea is to come into contact with the Living Word as still having power and meaning in our daily lives, instead of being seen only as ancient stories about other people. Therefore, we try to avoid asking questions that could be answered with a simple yes or no, but instead invite men to reflect on their personal experience.
To help articulate the difference between a Faith Sharing and Bible Study approach to discussion questions, following are samples of both derived from our reading Mark 6: 30-44.
The Rejection at Nazareth.
Mark 6: 1-6
He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Faith Sharing Questions:
- In this story Jesus is pre-judged based on his family’s history in the town. What is your tendency to prejudge others based on perception or appearances rather than your experience of who they actually are?
- Do you believe the strength of your faith is part of a co-creational relationship that enables God’s movement in life? When have you experienced this?
- What does this story say to you about faith as a process of “letting go” and the importance of granting freedom to other people and to God?
Bible Study Questions:
- Why might Jesus’ townspeople have taken offense at him?
- What theme, evident in today’s Gospel, does mark emphasize throughout his Gospel?
- Why was Jesus unable to perform “ any mighty deeds? ”