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Written ReflectionWritten Reflection

Illuminating the Bible: A Book for the Family

Making The Saint John’s Bible a Part of Your Home
National Bible Week 2015

“National Bible Week provides a unique opportunity for parents to revisit and renew their understanding of the power of the Word of God in the life of their family. As leaders of the ‘domestic Church,’ parents are encouraged to be not only the first but the best of teachers for their children in the ways of faith.” -USCCB


Genealogy of Jesus, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


As Christian parents who are raising children, some of us have internalized a certain standard that says holiness is being like the Holy Family. We get hung up on the word “holy” thinking it is quite unattainable. We might even think to ourselves “how could ‘holy’ possibly be in the same sentence as the word ‘family’?” Pope Francis, who is greatly in tune with the reality of daily life, spoke on this matter at the World Meeting of Families in September. He said, “Families have difficulties. In families we quarrel. Sometimes, plates can fly. Children cause headaches. . . But, in families, there is always light.” Despite all the struggles and difficulties families endure, love is what binds families together and brings hope to overcome any obstacle. The path to holiness is messy, but there is always gold scattered amongst the chaos.


When we examine this illumination, Genealogy of Jesus, we see the written names of those in Jesus’ lineage. We are familiar with many of these individuals through their stories, which are written in the Old Testament. Further, we are quite aware of the brokenness of these individuals, of their sinfulness. Our own stories are woven into theirs. The lineage of the Holy Family is no exception to the messy reality of all families we know today. Yet, this is how God chose to enter the world; the Father sent Jesus into a family. As Pope Francis says, “He could do this, because it was a family that had a truly open heart. The doors of their heart opened.” This is all that God asks of us, to open ourselves to receive him into our hearts, into our homes, and allow him to dwell there with us. His presence will transform our families. God’s love will meet us in our current situation and give us the grace we need to carry on with our lives.


Around the menorah and throughout the illumination, we see a double helix. This spiral shape reminds us to take seriously Jesus’ incarnation. Noting that the DNA is gold in certain areas, we call to mind how Jesus extends an invitation to all peoples to participate in his divinity. To this point, Pope Francis exclaims, “Families have a citizenship which is divine. The identity card that they have is given to them by God. So that within the heart of the family, truth, goodness and beauty can truly grow.”

This week, during National Bible Week, I encourage you to open your hearts more fully to God. Invite God to dwell within your home, within your family. There is nothing that will delight him more. Make the first gesture, take your Bible off the shelf and dive into the Word of God.


Rachel Gabelman is a Master of Divinity candidate at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary. She serves as a graduate assistant with Seeing the Word.