'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
POPE LUKE WOULD BE PROUD
One of the most enjoyable things I do nowadays is teach a Bible Study class. And not just any Bible Study class, but a Catholic Bible Study class. This sometimes presents interesting challenges since, as you may be aware, we Catholic lay people are not exactly renowned for being Bible scholars. In fact, most Catholics have never opened a Bible, and if they actually own one, it’s usually on a top shelf somewhere, covered in dust with Baptismal certificates and First Communion programs stuffed inside the front cover.
To give you an idea, not too long ago I asked the class a question: “Who did Jesus appoint as the first earthly leader of the Church, the man who we now refer to as the ‘first pope’?”
One man raised his hand and said, “I think it was John the Baptist.”
I said, “No, that’s not right, Frank.”
A woman raised her hand and said, “Was it Moses?”
I said, “Nope, that’s not correct, Margaret.”
Then another man raised his hand and said, “I know, I know. The first pope was Pope John Paul II.”
I said, “No, that’s not right either, Father Finnegan.”
After that, no one else raised his or her hand, so I had to tell the class the correct answer: the first pope was St. Luke.
Anyway, this gives you an idea of how tricky it can be teaching Scripture to people who are not very familiar with the topic. (By the way, I know the correct answer is St. Peter. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. Obviously that little classroom exchange is just a joke and never occurred. But I recently told that story to a couple of Catholic friends, and when I said St. Luke, instead of laughing they just shrugged and said, “Oh, OK.” Then one of them muttered, “I thought Moses sounded right.” I immediately asked them—no, ordered them—to start attending the Bible Study class.)
So it can be kind of challenging at times. But it could be worse, I suppose. If I were teaching Scripture to a group of, say, Baptist 6th graders, I’d be in big trouble since they would know twice as much as I do about the Bible. (And I’m being generous to myself by saying ONLY “twice as much.”)
It doesn’t matter if our Catholic class would be crushed by a bunch of Baptist 6th graders in a game of “Bible Jeopardy.” (Hosted, of course, by St. Alex of Trebek.) We still have a good time and are learning a lot.
The most rewarding aspect of teaching the class is watching people who have been completely intimidated by the Bible since their youth—a period often spanning 40, 50 or even 60 years—come to realize it’s not that daunting after all. Once you get a handle on how the Bible is organized, the various literary styles employed, and the overall message, it starts to make sense and becomes an indispensable part of a vibrant faith life.
If anyone is interesting in joining us, we meet every 2nd and 4th Monday in Harwinton. Feel free to contact me for more details at email@example.com.
If you do choose to join us, I can promise three things will happen: you will learn; you will laugh; and in Heaven, various saints, such as Pope Luke and Pope Moses, will look down on you and smile.
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