Fr. Lewis aims to connect Scripture with people in the pews

By 
  • October 29, 2010
Father Scott LewisTORONTO - Members of the Holy Rosary parish choir in Burlington, Ont., really need Jesuit Father Scott Lewis’s new book, if only to clear the clutter of old programs piling up at home.

Music director Vicky Chen has been reprinting Lewis’s weekly Catholic Register column about the Sunday readings on the back of her weekly music programs for years. A former student in Lewis’s Scripture classes at Regis College, Chen feels the column gives choir members a context for the hymns and songs they sing Sunday mornings.


“I believe that in order to listen to the homily and be fully participating in the liturgy we need to prepare ourselves,” said Chen. “His column is a nice supplement to the readings — to help them (choir members) to read it in a more applicable way and not just pious.”

God’s Word on Sunday, Liturgy Reflections for Year A will be released by Catholic Register Books Nov. 8. The softcover, 120-page collection of Lewis’s reflections on Matthew’s cycle of readings will sell for $13.99.  

Lewis knows he has two audiences for his column — preachers and pastors looking for a jumping off point or a little more meat in their next homily and the people in pews who often feel the need to understand better what the readings are saying.

“A lot of people are hungry for some kind of spiritual food,” said Lewis.

Though it’s been 67 years since Pope Pius XII issued Divino Afflante Spiritu (Inspired by Divine Spirit) and 45 years since the Second Vatican Council issued Dei Verbum, the Church’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, Catholics are still woefully ignorant of the Bible, said Lewis.

“There’s a general kind of disconnect we have from our own culture and traditions now.”

One of Lewis’s hopes for the book and the weekly column is that Catholics not simply read the column, but go back and read the Bible passages in their context. While the Lectionary does a good job of keeping people connected to the Bible — “It gives people digestible bits they can have throughout the year” — people sometimes need to read what comes before and after the lectionary reading to really get it, said Lewis.

The oddest reaction Lewis has had to his column over the years is people who write to say that, while they don’t dispute the historical and cultural context or his pastoral encouragement, they’re frustrated because he doesn’t tell them what they should do in light of the Gospel.

“I’m not in the business of telling people what to do. That’s their job,” said Lewis. “All this is is a little catalyst. People don’t realize, they are the missing link in the Bible.”

This isn’t the first time the distinguished Regis College scholar has reached out to a popular audience. In 2005 Liturgical Press brought out The Gospel According to John: And the Johannine Letters. In 2004 Lewis published What are they Saying About New Testament Apocalyptic with the Paulist Press. He is currently at work on Something New Under the Sun: Spirituality and Christian Life in the New Testament also for Paulist Press. His more academic side shows in the Collegeville Bible Commentary series book The Gospel of John and the Epistles of John from Liturgical Press.

To order a copy of God’s Word on Sunday, visit The Catholic Register store.

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