Have you read the Good Book lately

HOW IS KNOWLEDGE OF THE BIBLE LIKE KNOWLEDGE of the family car? Let's let Michael Pearl of Aurora, Colorado count the ways: "Most of us own at least one; many of us are content to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for operation and maintenance. Others want a thorough knowledge (such as a home mechanic). Still others neglect it until the car breaks down."

And the Survey says . . .

1. In a typical week:

10 % I go to the Bible daily.
31 % I go to the Bible almost daily.
30 % I go to the Bible once or
twice a week.
17 % My exposure to the Bible is mostly
limited to what I get at Mass.
12 % Other: daily Mass, Liturgy
of the Hours, etc.

2. Which of the following have you used to enhance your experience of the Bible?:

58 % Bible-reading guides
50 % Organized Bible study
36 % Faith-sharing group
36 % Classroom instruction
26 % Other (tapes, commentaries,
magazine articles)
21 % Lectio Divina
7 % Computer or Internet

3. What other practice or opportunity would you most like to take advantage of to enhance your understanding of the Bible?

Top three answers:
1- More formal classes
2- Make Bible-reading a daily habit
3- Travel to the Holy Land

4. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent), how do you rate:

6.5 Your knowledge of the Bible?
4 Most Catholics' knowledge of the Bible?
7.5 Most Protestants' knowledge
of the Bible?

5. What is your favorite book or section of the Bible?

Top five answers:

1- The psalms
2- Paul's letters
3- John's gospel
4- Gospels in general
5- Luke's gospel

6. Who is your favorite character from the Bible? Top 10 answers:

1- Peter
2- Paul
3- Mary Magdalene
4- Job
5- John, the "beloved"
6- Doubting Thomas
7- King David
8- Abraham
9- Joseph, Old Testament
10- Joseph, New Testament

7. What is your favorite verse or story from the Bible?

Top five answers:

1- Prodigal Son
2- Road to Emmaus
3- Micah 6:8
4- 1 Corinthians 13
5- Tie: Psalm 23; Psalm 139; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 25

8. What one verse, section, or tendency in the Bible do you find most disconcerting? Top three answers:

1- Bloodthirsty nature of God and the Israelites in the Old Testament.
2- The Bible's subjugation of women, especially in Paul's letters.
3- The "hard sayings" of Jesus.

9. What do you remember being one of the most surprising things you ever learned about the Bible? Top three answers:

1- Often the "authors" aren't really the authors: the gospels were written long after Jesus' death and Resurrection, other gospels were written but not included in the official canon.
2- The immensity of God's mercy.
3- The universality of the Bible's themes.

Pearl is one of 178 U.S. Catholic readers who took part in a recent survey on Bible-reading habits. According to our findings, U.S. Catholic readers are fairly accomplished mechanics when it comes to knowing all the vital parts that lie under the hood of the Holy Bible.

And they know what routine maintenance is required to keep a scripture-based spirituality humming. Half say they have participated in a Bible study; 58 percent acknowledge their use of cheat sheets and study guides to help them pick their way through the nuts and bolts of Leviticus or finetune their appreciation of the prophets.

While a majority of readers say they think Catholics ought to improve their mileage when it comes to Micah, Mark, and Matthew, there are a few who cry "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Such as this reader from Salt Lake City:

"I was received into the Catholic Church as a senior citizen about 15 years ago, after a lifetime of Protestant membership. Catholics keep telling me they don't know anything about the Bible, but they seem to have an excellent understanding—even if they can't quote chapter and verse."

Still, reciting "chapter and verse" is something many U.S. Catholic readers seem comfortable doing. A full third of the time, respondents didn't lapse into familiar shorthand—say, "the Sermon on the Mount" or "the separation of the sheep and the goats"—and instead rattled off specific references like old pros.

Sermon on the Mount? That would be Matthew 5-7. John 15? That's the story about Jesus being the vine and us being the branches. Ezekiel 36: 25-28? That's the Old Testament passage about turning stony hearts to flesh.

Those Catholics who say that their exposure to scripture is limited to Sunday Mass maybe aren't faring so badly, either. A few failed attempts to look up a Bible quotation ended with the realization that some readers were reciting exact song verses, not Bible verses—the refrain from "Sing to the Mountain," for example. As Chicagoan Dorothy E. Maleski explains, "There are many psalms that come to me when I am down and troubled. I remember them from singing responses on Sunday."

A last observation: It's a remarkably young set of Catholics that is doing this reading. More folks in their 20s and 30s responded to this particular U.S. Catholic survey than perhaps ever before. Current trend-trackers might look at this and note the way in which Jesus is increasingly a hero figure to younger generations. Others might say they're simply picking up Catholicism's oldest owner's manual.

Q: What's your favorite book or section of the Bible?
The Book of Psalms topped readers' lists, as did all kinds of variations on the New Testament.

"As a recent returnee to the church, I find it difficult to find the words I need to express myself in prayer," explains Richard Notman of Eureka, California. "The psalms help me praise and give thanks when I'm in a spiritual dry spell."

Adds Fran Serpe of Berwyn, Illinois, "As a pastoral musician, I find the psalms a shortcut to genuine prayer."

Katie Sullivan of Pottstown, Pennsylvania likes not just the psalms but the whole of "the Old Testament because it's so earthy. Many of the people God chooses to lead the Israelites—well, they screw up. And that gives me hope. Not just for myself, but for people's ability to change."

But except for the psalms and a vote of confidence for poor old Job, Old Testament material merited hardly a mention with most readers. One cited, simply, "New Testament. Because it challenges us to live what Christ taught."

Paul's epistles topped the list of New Testament offerings, in particular his Letter to the Romans. Of the gospels, John was the evangelist of choice: "John's gospel," says Lena Grecco of Valley Stream, New York, features "insight and beautiful prose; it draws me into the human and divine Christ."

Other readers had different New Testament favorites.

"Acts. I see the humanity of the apostles and the interaction that they faced trying to understand and share all that they had experienced," notes Thomas Cobb of St. Charles, Maryland.

"Luke's gospel. It speaks to me as one invited to view the life of Jesus in his concern for all humanity," says Grace Hendel of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Marge Mattice of Kewaunee, Wisconsin points to "Matthew's account of the 'Last Judgment' (chapter 25). Not only does Jesus let us know there will be a final exam, but he tells us what the questions will be!"

The letters of the New Testament "were written to address specific issues and concerns, many of which are as relevant and meaningful today as they were then," adds Theresa E. Tabor of Frankfort, Illinois. "I find a great deal of encouragement in them."

Some readers noted a certain continuity running from Old Testament to New: "The accounts of women who were responsible for making sure God's promises were carried out: Rachel, Sarah, Abigail, Mary of Magdala, etc.," says Sister Madeleine Tacy, O.P. of North Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Q: Apart from the obvious—Jesus, Mary, or Yahweh—who is your favorite character from the Bible?
This question brought nearly a three-way tie—among Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene. "Paul! Because of his radical transition: from ultimate sinner to ultimate man of God," says a North Dakota reader. What's interesting is that some of the Mary Magdalene responses echo the above sentiment about Paul, even though contemporary scholarship has shown that Mary Magdalene was not the big sinner that tradition has supposed her to be.

Not that a bumbling Peter is any perfect specimen, either—or that readers mind. "His portrayal in the gospels and Acts is so believable. His humanness endears him to those who are trying to understand and follow Jesus," says a reader from Georgia.

Other favorites:

"Abraham. A father of faithfulness, a humble, honest, human creation," says Jay Booth of Deposit, New York.

"Job is one of my favorites because he shows us that it is OK to lament and work through our brokenness. I read Job at a time in my life when I was feeling very helpless. Job was comforting," notes Debbie Walker of Waynesville, Missouri.

"King David. Great leader who sinned greatly. He repented and went back to being a great leader—no regrets, no guilt," says David Sharp of Wickenburg, Arizona.

Pat Ruggaber of Wheaton, Illinois likes "Martha. I can relate to her 'Well, somebody's got to do the work!' attitude."

"Ruth. She and her mother-in-law had such a good relationship (as I had). They took care of each other," explains Pauline Navarro of Placentia, California.

Lawrence McNeil of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania picks Sarah: "The fact she put up with Abraham and his God and never said 'That's enough, already.'"

"Thomas. He believed in Jesus not because of the miraculous but because of his woundedness," observes Sister Mary Benet of Chicago.

Q: What one verse, section, or tendency in the Bible do you find most disconcerting?
In most instances, readers were bothered by the Old Testament's reputation for violent vengefulness.

Marilyn Greene of Aldie, Virginia deplores "the bloodiness and brutality of the Old Testament—that it took God so long to change his people." And a reader in Bennington, Vermont thinks it's "barbaric" how "in Kings, people conquered other nations and killed all their foes' people, animals, servants."

What's even harder to reconcile, say many readers, is that the bloodthirsty God of the Israelites simply doesn't match their experience of the God proclaimed by Jesus. One reader notes God calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. "This demand seems unworthy of God, who should know full well of the depth of Abraham's faith."

But the Old Testament isn't the only trouble spot for readers. Several—not just women, but husbands, priests, and deacons—were unhappy with the oppressive way women (along with gays and slaves) are treated throughout the Bible. But the worst offender, they say, seems to be Paul's epistles.

"I asked my wife, and she said 'Paul,'" one reader stated simply.

"I am disturbed not so much by the Bible, but by the refusal of some Christian readers to seek a deeper understanding of verses like 1 Timothy 2:12—'I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent'—instead of using them as an excuse to justify prejudice and oppression," explains Debbie Walker of Waynesville, Missouri.

Chicagoan Eileen Pavlik cites the famous verse that says that wives should submit to their husbands. "I don't feel that it is necessary for anyone to submit to anyone else."

Finally, even the most noble among us probably can't help but be a little disconcerted about so many of Jesus' ultimatums: sell all you have and give it to the poor, take up your cross and follow me, love your enemies. A number of readers wonder whether they'd have a sheep's chance in Hades if they were made to line up in Matthew 25.

"Luke 14:26, with Jesus saying his followers must leave their mother and father. Everywhere but here Jesus preaches love. This quote seems divisive, isolating, and markedly uncharitable," insists Irene M. Piekaski of Seattle.

"The rich young man, because I think Jesus was too hard on him," says Gerald O'Shea of Portland, Maine.

"'If your hand is your downfall, cut it off.' Some countries take it literally," points out Father Robert Timchak of Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

But some of Jesus' words are tough to hear for other reasons, as in: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46), says Father James J. Doyle, C.S.C. of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Q: What do you remember as being one of the most surprising things you ever learned about the Bible? What has surprised readers?
"Learning that only one gospel writer actually saw Jesus," remembers Martin E. Foal of Joliet, Illinois. "That there are more gospels that were never canonized (and never noted in church)," adds R.J. Wind-gassen of Venice, Florida.

Another curious surprise: "Finding out in high school that there were two different creation stories in Genesis," recalls Trudy Cranston of Westmont, New Jersey.

But some pleasant surprises, too: "The number of women mentioned in the Bible. I think there are more than 75—and we hear so little of them," notesAnnette Swiderski of Redlands, California. Thomas Cobb of St. Charles, Maryland likes "how fluid it reads when I didn't just read a small passage but whole sections or even books at a time."

For Diane Maguire of Lawrenceville, Georgia, the surprise is one that never ends—for her or us. "That it is a love story of God and his people, and that human nature hasn't changed much in 3,500 years—which makes the Bible truly timeless."

Study Tools
New American Bible, online (approved text for Catholic use)

Bible Gateway (search various Bible translations by key word or verse)

Goshen Bible Study Tools (another Bible-search tool; also other commentaries)

The "Five" Gospels, in Parallel Display (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John—and Thomas, one of the noncanonical gospel accounts)

New Testament References in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (courtesy of Theology Library)

Old Testament References in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (courtesy of Theology Library)

Favorite verses of U.S. Catholic readers
1 John 4: 10-16
In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect;
but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man,
I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully,
even as I have been fully understood.
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Romans 8:26-39

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies;
who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 12:12
Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Matthew 7:7
"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

Matthew 25
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
But at midnight there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'
Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
But the wise replied, 'Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.'
But he replied, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
"For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property;
to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more.
So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more.
But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.'
And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.'
His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.'
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow;
so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'
But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed?
Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents.
For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.'
"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.
Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'
And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'
Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'
Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'
And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Luke 4:16-24

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read;
and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?"
And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper'na-um, do here also in your own country.'"
And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.

Luke 24:13-35
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma'us, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
and talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And he said to them, "What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad.
Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?"
And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened.
Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?"
And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further,
but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them.
And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he openedto us the scriptures?"
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them,
who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!"
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 15
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
This I command you, to love one another.
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
He who hates me hates my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, 'They hated me without a cause.'
But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;
and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (Revised Standard Version)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ezekiel 36:26-28 (Revised Standard Version)
I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.
You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 37: 1-14 (Revised Standard Version)
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; it was full of bones.
And he led me round among them; and behold, there were very many upon the valley; and lo, they were very dry.
And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest."
Again he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.
And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put
breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD."
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone.
And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live."
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host.
Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.'
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel.
And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done it, says the LORD."

Micah 6:8 (Revised Standard Version)
He has showed you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to
love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Psalm 23 (Revised Standard Version)
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want;
he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 139 (Revised Standard Version)
O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me!
Thou knowest when I sit down and when I rise up; thou discernest my thoughts from afar.
Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou dost beset me behind and before, and layest thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee.
For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise thee, for thou art fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well;
my frame was not hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.
Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are thy thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thee.
O that thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God, and that men of blood would depart from me,
men who maliciously defy thee, who lift themselves up against thee for evil!
Do I not hate them that hate thee, O LORD? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

1 Kings 19:11-13 (Revised Standard Version)
And he said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by,
and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
And when Eli'jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him.

Isaiah 43: 1b-2, 4, 5 (Revised Standard Version)
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.
Fear not, for I am with you."

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