Reading between the lines

Megan McKenna, an author and Scripture scholar from Albuquerque, N.M., speaks June 20 during the 20th annual Castelot Summer Scripture Series at Christ the Redeemer Parish in Lake Orion. Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Megan McKenna, an author and Scripture scholar from Albuquerque, N.M., speaks June 20 during the 20th annual Castelot Summer Scripture Series at Christ the Redeemer Parish in Lake Orion.
Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Gospel experts speak at 20th annual Castelot Summer Scripture Series

Lake Orion — For almost 2,000 years, Christian communities have gathered together to read and reflect on Scripture.

Written by those who were closest to Christ, the Gospel still serves as a relevant guide for Christians today.

From June 20-23, Scripture scholars and teachers from across the Archdiocese of Detroit gathered at Christ the Redeemer Parish in Lake Orion for the 20th Castelot Summer Scripture Series.

This year’s conference — named after Fr. John Castelot, a teacher at the former St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth — featured Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, a Jewish-born convert to Catholicism at age 25 who entered the seminary to become a Jesuit priest, and Megan McKenna, an author and speaker on Scripture from Albuquerque, N.M.

People come year after year to hear insight from experts on passages with which all Catholics are familiar, said Mary-Elizabeth Murray, conference coordinator.

“People come back here because you have a spiritual camaraderie around the group,” Murray said. “Learning continues after the lectures end with social time and being surrounded by people who are also emerged in the Scripture.”

McKenna spoke June 20 about Luke 7:11-17, the story of Jesus encountering the woman from Nain, who was wailing as her son’s funeral procession was exiting the city.

McKenna noticed how Jesus pitied the woman — she was in a desperate state now that her son was gone and nobody was left to care for her — and how by raising her son from the dead, Jesus gave the woman new life.

“As we are baptized, we’re resurrected into living a new life, because we have a purpose,” McKenna said. “This woman has no family; she is going to be left to die. It made Jesus so sick to see all these good religious people not take her in, because she falls through the cracks.”

After her session, McKenna spoke with The Michigan Catholic about the importance of looking at the Scripture through the lens of today.

“The Gospel is meant to be the Good News for the poor,” McKenna said. “Who are the people we need to be in solidarity with right now, who is being left behind? The poor? The refugees? The immigrants? People in the LGBT community? Who are the ones falling through the cracks?”

McKenna emphasized the Gospel readings have the same impact on the Christian community today, which is why it’s important for Christians to read and study as the early Church did, in a community.

“We believe the Holy Spirit was given to us in baptism, and we believe the Holy Spirit is with the writers of the Gospel,” McKenna explained. “Therefore, we’re in communion with not just each other today, but with the Gospel writers. Scripture is mean to be studied in a community; you’re accountable with what is written and how you live.”

On June 21, Fr. Neuhaus was scheduled to speak about the structure of the Gospel according to St. Luke, highlighting the Annunciation and birth of Christ.

As a Hebrew-speaking priest from Israel, Fr. Neuhaus has a special insight into the context and culture of the Gospel, being well-versed in the history and traditions of the land in which Jesus lived.

“Fr. Neuhaus is the person with the most Scripture knowledge I’ve ever met,” Murray said. “For Fr. David, nothing he says isn’t important. Fr. Neuhaus has a unique understanding of the Scripture — he lives there (Israel).

“No matter how many times I hear the Gospel according to St. Luke, to hear it from their scholarly insight is just amazing. Having these people, legitimate experts coming to us, it’s always a different experience.”