Sunday, September 30, 2012

Matt Birk's Take on the Marriage Amendment

Here is a link to a great article from NFL player Matt Birk.  Mr. Birk played for the Vikings and graduated from Harvard.  This is one of the best articles I've read regarding the Marriage Amendment.

Letter to the Editor

           Below is a letter I wrote regarding the upcoming Marriage Amendment to the Duluth News Tribune.

           I am writing in response to the Sept. 16 “Local View” column, “Amendment will restrict religious freedom and love,” by the Rev. Kathryn Nelson of Duluth, lead pastor at Peace United Church of Christ.
First, I question Pastor Nelson’s notion of separating religion and politics. Many people think, “Personally, I believe x, but I shouldn’t force my beliefs on others in society.” But why shouldn’t the truths of religion impact society and civil laws? After all, we are a democracy and should vote according to the universal truths a plethora of religions teach.
           Coming from the Roman Catholic tradition, I wonder, if the good news of Jesus Christ is not influencing our civil law, what is? Catholics believe we are each created good by an all-good and all-loving God, there is right and wrong, marriage is a gift received by God, and marriage is in fact between one man and one woman.
           Second, I am not clear on Pastor Nelson’s use of the word “freedom.” She lamented not having the “freedom” to witness a same-sex union. Yet I am concerned should this “freedom” be granted in Minnesota. In fact, Catholic priests in Canada (where same-sex unions were legally recognized on July 20, 2005) face arrest and accusations of hate speech and discrimination should they choose not to witness a same-sex union or choose to preach against same-sex unions based on their religious convictions.
           I see the implementation of the marriage amendment as an act that would ensure religious freedom for those of us who agree that same-sex unions should not receive legal benefits from our government.
           We Christians and Catholics ought to vote according to our religious convictions. Marriage between a man and a woman is a gift received by God, and affirming this fact benefits our society the most. Voting “yes” for the proposed marriage amendment affirms this.

Fr. Ben Hadrich

The writer is the parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph’s (Gnesen Township) Roman Catholic parishes.

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

            Sometimes we may wonder what rejoicing over the Lord’s Law or precepts are all about.  We hear the Psalmist do just this today.  When we think of a law today we immediately think of rules, obligations or duties that we might not initially think are happy things.
            Specifically I wondered this week about the word precept, so I did a little digging.  It turns out that precept or precepts is used in the Bible thirty-seven times.  Twenty-one of these—over half—come in one chapter of the Bible: Psalm 119.  Because of this fact it is worth examining this Psalm more closely.
            We have been reading from Psalm 119 during daily Mass this week and it is the paramount hymn of praise for God’s Law.  The neat fact about this Psalm is that it uses eight to ten synonyms for law and precept.  Some we may expect—command, order, edict.  Yet others we might not expect—way and path.  These are precisely the important ones for us to consider as we fill out our understanding of God’s Law and why the Psalmist and others in Sacred Scripture can rejoice in it.  The Law is more than an obligation but a guidebook or map for life.
            As Christians we can fully appreciate this Law because Jesus came to fulfill it.  We must remember that He Himself said He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  A great example of this is in the Ten Commandments that still hold true today.
            Yet we also know the Law in itself is not sufficient.  Rejoicing in the Law alone would be like celebrating in the rules of a sport rather than the sport itself.  Yet all athletes know the rules of a sport are to order a game for competition to take place.  In a sense, the Israelites before Christ were like the referees in a sport that knew the Law well and made sure to enforce it.  As Christians we are called to excel, not in knowing the Law, or the rules of life to a T, but to excel at life itself.  God’s Law, then, sets the stage for us to live well.
            As we understand that Jesus fulfilled the Law, we can most fully join in the praise of the Psalmist—“the precepts of the Lord give joy to my heart.”

Friday, September 28, 2012


Daily Mass Homily: Friday, September 28th, 2012

            We have a well known Scripture passage from Qoheleth this morning from Ecclesiastes.  It was actually made into a song…Mama’s and Papa’s, I believe?  [Many shake their heads.]  Who sang this then?  [Many say, “The Byrds”.]  Well, I apologize, I am very young and shouldn’t know that one anyway!
            “The teacher” captures the human experience of contradictions.  There is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to love and a time to hate, a time to be at war and a time to be at peace.  I’m not sure what “a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together” means, but the point is the same…life is balanced with such contradictions.
            This applies not only to our individual lives, but also to salvation history as a whole.  We can say, “There was a time before Christ, there is a time after Christ.  There is a time before the Resurrection, there is a time after the Resurrection.”  God, in His providence, has a time for everything.  This includes both the preparation stages in the Old Testament Law and prophets for Christ and the fulfillment of Christ’s incarnation.
            We have a blessed vantage point in that we get to live after the Resurrection.  Because of this we can exclaim with the Psalmist, “Blessed be the Lord, my rock!”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Thursday, September 27th, 2012

            This morning we are introduced to a very unique book of the Bible—Ecclesiastes.  The writer is self-titled Qoheleth—the teacher—and tradition says this is a writing of Solomon or someone writing in Solomon’s name.
            Talk about a Debbie-downer introduction.  “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!”  I think we should make a push to have this read at Mass every Monday morning.
            Qoheleth is basically saying, “What’s the point?”  The author claims to have grown in wisdom, wealth and worldly knowledge.  At the same time, he wonders what the point is to any of this because, whether rich or poor, full or hungry, wise or foolish, the same end comes to all—death.  Is there any profit to anything except to eat, drink and be merry in the few years we have on earth?
            Peter Kreeft has said that this book asks the question that the rest of the Bible answers—what’s the purpose of life?
            I have adapted an activity from my Mom that I frequently use with kids to illustrate this point.  Imagine some of the blessings in your life—your family, hobbies and passions.  Now picture me writing a zero on a chalkboard (we really need a chalk board up here!) for everyone’s blessings.  Imagine the string of 70 or so zeroes on this board.  I then ask the kids (because this is math related, and math is the best!) how much is 70 (or any number of) zeroes?  Zero.  Yet what happens if I place the number one before all these zeroes?  What was once nothing is now a huge number.
            We have a blessed vantage point because we live after Jesus Christ’s incarnation.  We can see that, if Christ is not the center of our lives and our greatest priority, all we do is truly “vanity of vanities”.  Yet when God is put first, all of these “vain” activities become infinitely valuable.  Unlike Qoheleth instead of saying “vanity of vanities” we can say with St. Paul, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Wednesday, September 26th, 2012 (St. John's School Mass)

            Next week I have the chance to go camping.  And I’m not just camping anywhere…I’m going to the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota to fish and hunt with my parents and friends.
            Who can tell me some of the things I should bring?  [Kids tell me to bring a sweatshirt, water filter, axe, tent, sleeping bag and a flashlight.  Not sure how they’re planning on me eating!] 
            These are some good ideas.  I especially like the flashlight idea.  When I’m out camping it will be dark when I wake up (if I wake up then!) and dark before I go to bed.  Without a flashlight I wouldn’t be able to do much of anything.  [Take out camouflage headlamp.]  Does anyone know what this sort of flashlight is called?  [One girl answered, “A headlamp.”]  Yep, this is called a headlamp.  [Put it on.]  This one is pretty cool as it has several different lights.  [Turn on green, then red…]  These are to have light so the bugs don’t fly in your face.  [Turn on normal beam…]  This one is the normal light.  [Turn on strobe beam…]  This one is if you want to have a dance party.  Actually, the flashing light is used if you’re in trouble in the woods.
            Our responsorial Psalm today is “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”  I’ll be wearing a headlamp when I camp, to guide me in the dark.  But did you know that the Israelites actually wore a lamp on their feet?  Don’t ask me how, but they did so that they could walk in the dark.  This Psalm, then, is important to them as they compared the Word of God to a light that guides them in the dark.
            This year we are going to focus a lot on learning about God’s Word in the Bible.  We’ll continue to memorize verses and read our Bibles on a daily basis at school.  Now, I don’t have candy on me at the moment, but does anyone have a Bible verse they memorized?  Let’s start with a Kindergartener.  [Kindergartener recites, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  First grader recites, “Jesus Wept, John 11:35.”  Second grader, “Give us this day our daily bread.”]  Good one.  As we started to memorize verses, we found it a bit tricky until we realized that we already know a lot of Bible verses through the Mass, Lord’s Prayer and other common prayers!  Alright, third grade, who can tell me one of my favorite verses?  [Third grader recites, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  Fourth grader recites, “The Lord is my shepherd, for nothing shall I want.”  Fifth grader recites, “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth.”  Sixth grader recites, “On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread, blessed it and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take this, all of you and eat it.  This is my body.’”]  Good one, N.  Keep those in mind as you might say them at Mass some day!
            As we celebrate Mass this morning we rejoice in God’s Word.  We pray that His Word may truly be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bulletin Article: Compete Well for the Faith (9-23-12)

“Compete well for the faith…”  (1 Timothy 6:12).

If you have not been able to tell, I am a big fan of sports.  In fact, one critique of my seminary staff was that I was “obsessed” with them.  Guilty as charged!

I must first agree with some of the sentiments of my seminary staff—an unhealthy connection to sports is devastating to our faith and life.  As my favorite radio host puts it, “Sports, sports, sports!  Is your whole life just sports?!”  Sports take up countless hours during the week for both students and athletes, and if this time is placed before God we do nothing short of sin.  Thousands of years ago the Israelites worshiped a golden calf.  The temptation today is to worship hockey, soccer, baseball, football, basketball, winning, championships and prestige—in short to worship our own accomplishments.
I find it ironic that some people find it difficult to go to Church or religious education yet have no problem getting to practice or bringing kids to practice at all hours of the week.  Imagine your (kids’) hockey or soccer coach telling you, “Johnny/Suzy, the minimum requirement to be on this team is to come to practice once a week.”  Wouldn’t that be simple enough?  Is going to Mass on Sundays or religious education this easy for you?
The fact is, our faith, and life itself, is far greater than any game or activity. The fact is, one day sports will be over due to an injury, going to college, old age, or even death itself (and I hope I am able to stay active until death!)  Hearing these things, many people in our society would conclude, “Fr. Ben is saying we must give up sports and be in a church all the time.”


In fact, when God is put first in our lives, sports becomes a potent environment to grow in the faith.  God has given us bodies to run, throw, jump and compete.  We are not dismembered spirits hovering in space—we have a body to use for God’s glory.  Excelling in athletic endeavors is one way we can praise the Lord.   In fact, faith and sports can complement each other well—both require teamwork, strength, endurance, discipline, practice, success, failure, good coaching, etiquette, execution and playing by the rules.  Living out the faith will make you a better athlete, because living out the faith makes you a better person.  And competition can teach us a thing or two about the faith.

And did you know there is even a patron saint of athletes?  (St. Sebastian)

I challenge our athletes and parents of athletes to put God before sports in your life.  Begin and end practices and games with a quick prayer—“Lord, thanks for the gift of this sport.  I compete today for Your honor and name.  Amen.”  Pray for good health and victory, but most importantly for God’s will to be done as you compete.  Make the commitment to get to Mass and religious education and invest as much (and hopefully more!) energy into these experiences as you do in your sport of choice.

Compete well for your team and the faith!

Bulletin Article: Welcome to New Staff/Faculty (9-16-12)

“Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7).

I would like to officially welcome four new employees to St. John’s Parish and School.  This summer we hired three new teachers and a new Director of Religious Education and I am excited to see them work with and teach our children. 

The first of these three, Leah Kilzdonk, is familiar to many of you as she was our former DRE.  She applied for a teaching position and will be teaching 2nd grade this year.  Before working as a DRE (both here and St. Benedict’s parish) Leah went to school at UWS for elementary education.  She is excited to get into the classroom, especially working with the children preparing for their first Communion.

Melissa Nash was hired as our new DRE to replace Leah.  She has a lot of great experiences working with children as she served as a missionary on a National Evangelization Team for a year.  She also spent last summer as one of our eight Totus Tuus teachers and traveled around Northeastern Minnesota putting on elementary, junior high and high school programs.

Amanda Herzog is our new kindergarten teacher.  This will be her first time having a classroom of her own, for which she is very excited.  Before being hired here she worked at Congdon Creek Preschool and she received her education in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from UMD.  A fun fact about Amanda—she is engaged and will be married here at St. John’s next summer.

Kelly Weingart will be our new third grade teacher.  She is also thrilled to be in a classroom of her own for the first time.  Kelly graduated from St. Scholastica in elementary education with a focus in math (which is the best school subject).  She joins us after spending a couple of years subbing in the area.

Please make our new teachers and DRE feel welcome both at the school and parish.  I have the utmost confidence in their abilities to educate and form our children.  In a very real way these four women have answered Jesus’ call: “Let the children come to me…” (Matthew 19:14a).  I am excited to see these new employees bring our little ones to Christ in the years to come.

Bulletin Article: St. John's School Begins (9-9-12)

As you read this, we have begun our 87th school year at St. John’s School.  To put that in perspective, that’s almost as old as Fr. Rich (ba-boom-ching).  We are very excited for another great year!

It was cool watching our school building transform throughout the summer months.  Eric, Pete and Al got our building in tip-top shape for our teachers and students, and the past few weeks our teachers have been working hard transforming their rooms from summer storage to excellent learning environments for our children.  We also hired three new teachers—Amanda Herzog (kindergarten), Leah Kilzdonk (2nd grade) and Kelly Weingart (3rd).  Welcome aboard, Amanda, Leah and Kelly!  Thanks also to Peggy and all of our teachers and staff for their hard work in preparing for another year.

Speaking of school, last month Fr. Rich asked me to chair a Catholic Identity for St. John’s School.  I will be joined by four others in this endeavor.  Representing our teachers will be Marge Coffer (6th grade and religion) and Leah Kilsdonk and representing our parents will be Katie Lisi and Chris Laumeyer.  I want to thank these individuals as well for their hard work as we have already begun to meet.

The purpose of this committee will be threefold.  First, our committee will be praying for our students, families and teachers, that St. John’s School will provide a vibrant educational experience in both academics and faith.  Second, we will be educating ourselves with many excellent resources on Catholic education from the Vatican, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and more.  Third, we will be discerning ways in which we can make the Catholic faith more vibrant for our children and then communicating with Peggy and the teachers about these ideas.  Our school is doing this well already, but there is always room to improve.  Already we have provided a teachers’ retreat for their spiritual edification and have ordered holy water fonts for each of the classrooms in the school.

With the above stated, Fr. Rich and I would like you to know of two ways in which you can support our school financially.  The first is our continuation of the Adopt-a-Student program in which we provide an opportunity for you to contribute tuition fees for families who could benefit from such assistance.  Second, we are starting the St. John’s School Legacy fund.  All contributions to this fund will go towards our efforts to improve our school’s Catholic identity.  Please prayerfully consider how you may contribute.  (Checks can be made to St. John’s Church with a memo of “Adopt-a-Student” or “St. John’s Legacy”). 

A few weeks ago Fr. Rich, in his ramblings, wrote about how St. John’s School is the primary mission of this parish.  With this in mind, please continue to support our school both spiritually, with your prayers, and financially, with your money!

Here’s to another great year of education.

Daily Mass Homily: Tuesday, September 25th 2012

           We have all sorts of hints this morning of Jesus’ fulfilling the Old Testament.  First, we hear the reverence of God’s Law in the Israelite community.  Our responsorial Psalm—Psalm 119—is one of the greatest examples in the Bible that venerates God’s Law.  Each stanza actually contains a synonym of the word law.  Today we heard precept, command, deeds, truth and more.
            We may typically think the Old Testament was all about knowing the Law and carrying out the regulations and precept of living and worship.  This is largely true, but the Old Testament is filled with instructions that, “To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”
            This is what Jesus says as He shows, in part, how He fulfills the Law in our short Gospel today: “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  We are called to listen to God and then act on His word and that is what makes us a good Christian.
            At Mass this morning we pray that we may in fact hear God’s Word and then act according to this Word in our day today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Monday, September 24th

            Our first reading summarizes well a basic belief of the Israelites in Old Testament times: “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
 but the dwelling of the just he blesses…”  They believed that fidelity to God would result in blessings and these include victory in war and conquering lands.  On the other hand, they also saw defeat and tragedy as a result of their infidelity.
            Sometimes this can be confusing for us who live after the coming of Christ.  We may read Old Testament stories of violence and pillage and be confused how an all good God could instruct such evil.  Yet at the heart of such Old Testament accounts is an imbedded truth that still holds today: fidelity to God results in blessings and infidelity results in death. 
As Christians, our blessings do not come in military victory but in grace, forgiveness, and growth in virtue.  Infidelity to God results in disorder and eventually death because “the wages of sin is death”.  Let’s put into action this teaching today.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

            Last Monday evening the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens squared off on Monday Night Football.  At one point the Broncos were penalized a normal five yard penalty for having too many men on the field.  (In the NFL you are allowed eleven men on the field and they had twelve).  Even after this obvious penalty, the Broncos coach went nuts.  He was livid.  He was red in the face, screaming at the officials…screaming things that I can’t say in Church.  He gestured to the officials that his team had eleven men and that the refs could should go away.  Immediately after this penalty the TV showed a still shot of the field with both teams.  Next to the Broncos players were the numbers one through twelve.  Perhaps the best moment of this all was the commentator who simply stated, “Well…they had twelve men on the field.”
            The Broncos coach lost his cool due to his frustrations with the game and the referees.  His emotions took over to the point that he couldn’t count the difference between eleven and twelve.
Today St. James warns us about our passions.  “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?  Is it not from your passions that make war within your members?”
We have all gotten caught in the heat of the moment and made a decision we regret.  Whether we said something we wished we didn’t to our siblings, parents, children or friends, overindulged in food or drink, gave a cheap shot in sports or have had a bout of road rage, we have all lost our cool at one moment or another due to our human passions, emotions and drives.
We are entering a season in our society in which our passions and emotions are easily triggered—election season.  In our particular state we face one such issue that is contentiously heated, divisive and controversial—the marriage amendment.
Whenever we face controversy—times in which our passions and emotions are easily put in overdrive—we want to avoid being like the Broncos coach and allowing such experiences to override good decision making to the point we can't count the difference between eleven and twelve.
With respect to the marriage amendment, we would do well to consider a few different thoughts.  First, and at the most general level, we must always remember that we are each created good by God and are His beloved.  This is true about those who have attacked American embassies in the Middle East, the person on the opposite side of the political spectrum, the person we think is in error, or the person who actually is in error.  God loves that person as much as He loves you.  God sent His son to die on the cross for that person as much as you.  Christ calls us to love our enemies.
Second, the whole Marriage Amendment discussion can be boiled down to one key question: is the reality of marriage in our society human made, or is it a gift from God?  Is it simply a societal construct, similar to what we find in the animal kingdom, or is it an essential dimension to our being male and female created by an all good and all loving God?  Is it true that God created us male and female, telling our first parents, “Be fruitful and multiply” and that “…a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh”?  Is it true that throughout the Scriptures one of the key images the Israelites and now Christians have reflected on to understand God’s love for His is people is the unity of a man and a woman?  Is it true that Jesus Christ affirmed this belief in His teachings about marriage, adultery and divorce?  Is it true that Jesus Christ attended at least one marriage at Cana in which He provided an abundance of wine, affirming the abundant graces capable in a marriage of a man and a woman?  If these latter are true, who am I as an individual to try to redefine marriage at any level?
Third, many people in our society, perhaps many people here at Mass, may say, “Fr. Ben, I believe this is true and that God has given us marriage, but I cannot legislate my faith.  Besides, it really doesn’t affect me if a same-sex couple is united.”  I would answer, “Why can’t you, as a Christian, legislate your faith?”  We have been given so much as Christians and as Catholics—in fact, we have been given every gift needed for union with God here on earth and in heaven.  Why shouldn’t we bring this faith, the Good News of Jesus Christ, into our society and into our civil law?  In fact, if our society and laws are not driven by the Gospel of Christ, what exactly does drive our society and laws?
Finally, we ought to reflect on what exactly freedom means.  Does freedom mean I, or others, can do anything they want?  Or is freedom something more?  To illustrate this, consider someone playing a piano.  I suppose someone could say they are free to bang their fists on the piano in any way they want.  Yet if this person was playing here at Mass, they would also be free to find a new job!  Isn’t the truly free pianist one who has practiced for years and years, spending countless hours working on basic chords and basic music principles, learning from teachers and the great pianists who have come to before them?  Isn’t the truly free pianist the one who can excel on the piano in an ordered and beautiful way?
My brothers and sisters, as election season approaches—as we vote on the marriage amendment—please don’t be like the Broncos coach.  The Church, not only the bishops in Minnesota, but also the Church throughout the centuries (including God’s revelation, Jesus’ Christ’s teaching, the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition) has spoken about marriage—in another way simply stating in charity, “Well, there is twelve men on the field.”  Marriage is between one man and one woman and our civil law ought to reflect that fact. 
Please think about such questions and pray about them in the weeks to come.  Know that Fr. Rich and I are here to pray for you and continue the discussion about the Marriage Amendment and are available to speak.  This is especially true if the personal experiences in your life—situations in which your loved ones may be directly impacted—really strike a nerve.  
Pray well, reflect well, and then vote well.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Friday, September 21st (Feast of St. Matthew)

           Picture Matthew the day before he met Jesus.  He would have been doing his daily disgusting job--collecting taxes.  To get an idea of how much tax collectors were hated in Jesus' day, picture all the negative stereotypes (which I am not necessarily endorsing!) of a used car salesman, lawyer and IRS agent all into one.  Then multiply that by 100.  Tax collectors were hated because they were criminals.  They took exorbant amounts of money to pad their own wallet.
           Imagine telling Matthew the day before he encountered Christ, "Hey, buddy, what if I told you that you would write a narrative that will be translated into every language in the world and read for centuries after your death?"  Matthew the tax collector would have lauged.
           Then Matthew met Jesus. 
           We must remember that God called Matthew.  Jesus took the initiative to call him.  "The well have no need of a physician but the sick do."  Jesus called this disgusting tax collector.  Jesus called a sinner, not a righteous person, and Jesus still calls us sinners today.
           Matthew followed.  He began his own ministry quickly as he brought many tax collectors to his home to encounter Christ too.  Matthew followed Jesus in his mission and ministry.  Matthew took up the quill and wrote Jesus' life and ended up writing one of the four canonical Gospels.  Matthew followed Jesus' by giving up his own life for the faith.  Would that we follow Christ as Matthew did.
           This morning we can now ask this once hated tax collector--St. Matthew, pray for us.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Daily Mass Homily: Thursday, September 20th

            Living 2000 years removed from Jesus Christ, we may have the tendency to forget the events of Christ’s life actually happened.  I know there are times I even wonder, is this all a made up story?  It’s good to remind ourselves that Jesus really did come to earth.  Jesus really did heal people.  Jesus really did forgive sins.  Jesus really did die and rise again.
            This morning St. Paul reiterates these facts: “I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you…For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once…”  This really happened.
            This same Jesus comes to us today.  The one who forgave the sins of the repentant woman forgives our sins.  He told her that, because of her faith, her sins have been forgiven.  My brothers and sisters, “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books of the Bible in a Verse

I have to admit, I am pretty pumped up about this post.  Over the past few years I have been working on a project--summarizing each book of the Bible in a verse.  73 books...73 verses.  This exercise is not meant to give a "right answer" as this is an impossible task (especially when considering academic scriptural studies which should account for authorship, redaction of the final text, key ideas being portrayed in more than one verse, etc.)  What it does do is to attempt to use one verse as a lens to better understand the entire book that is represented.  Indeed, some books of the Bible contain several important verses and sections that indicate the sacred author's main objective or theme.  Nevertheless, this has proved to be a fruitful exercise for me in learning about the Bible, and I hope it does for you.  One last note, check out Scott Hahn's "You Can Understand the Bible" for a great and readable introduction to each book of the Bible (eventually I hope to put together something like this of my own).  A PDF file can be found here: ( but here they are:

GenesisI will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  (3:15)
ExodusCome, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”  (3:10)
LeviticusFor I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy.”  (11:44a)
NumbersThese are the commandments and the ordinances which the LORD commanded by Moses to the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.  (36:13)
DeuteronomyI call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.”  (30:19)
Joshua—“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments.  And the land had rest from war.  (11:23)
Judges—“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.  (21:25)
Ruth—“And the women of the neighborhood gave him [Ruth and Boaz’ son] a name, saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi.’  They named him Obed; he was the father of Jesse, the father of David.  (4:17)
1 Samuel—“But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘No!  but we will have a king over us…” (8:19)
2 Samuel“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.”  (7:12)
1 Kings—“And when all Israel saw that the king did not hearken to them, the people answered the king, ‘What portion have we in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse.  To your tents, O Israel!  Look now to your own house, David.’  So Israel departed to their tents.”  (12:16)
2 Kings—“And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile.  (25:11)
1 Chronicles—“When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  (17:11)
2 Chronicles—“When Solomon had ended his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.  (7:1)
Ezra—“Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, every one whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem…  (1:5)
Nehemiah—“So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.  (6:15)
Tobit—“Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness.  A little with righteousness is better than much with wrongdoing.  It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold.  (12:8)
Judith—“Do not try to bind the purposes of the Lord our God; for God is not like man, to be threatened, nor like a human being, to be won over by pleading.  (8:16)
Esther—“For if you [Esther] keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  (4:14)
Job—“After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.  (42:14)
Psalms—“Praise the LORD!  Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!  (150:1)
Proverbs—“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  (9:10)
Ecclesiastes—“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities!  All is vanity.”  (1:2)
Wisdom of Solomon—“…for even if one is perfect among the sons of men, yet without the wisdom that comes from you he will be regarded as nothing.  (9:6)
Song of Songs—“…love is strong as death…”  (8:6c)
Sirach—“[The student of the law] will serve among great men and appear before rulers; he will travel through the lands of foreign nations, for he tests the good and the evil among men.  (39:4)
Isaiah—“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.  (53:7)
Jeremiah—“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…  (31:31)
Lamentations—“Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!  (3:40)
Baruch—“For they went forth from you on foot, led away by their enemies; but God will bring them back to you, carried in glory, as on a royal throne.  (4:6)
Ezekiel—“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.  (37:14)
Daniel—“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  (7:13)
Hosea—“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the LORD.’  (1:2)
Joel—“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain!  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming, it is near…  (2:1)
Amos—“The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.  (1:2)
ObadiahFor the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off for ever. (10)
Jonah And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.  (1:17)
Micah—“He has showed you, O man, 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?  (6:8)
Nahum—“Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace!  Keep your feasts, O Judah, fulfill your vows, for never again shall the wicked come against you, he is utterly cut off.  (1:15)
Habakkuk—“For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end — it will not lie.  If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.  (2:3)
Zephaniah—“Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of the LORD.  (2:3)
Haggai—“Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the LORD.  (1:8)
Zechariah—“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass.  (9:9)
Malachi—“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.  (3:1)
1 Maccabees—“Then Mattathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: ‘Let every one who is zealous for the law and supports the covenant come out with me!’”  (2:27)
2 Maccabees But Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages and summoned their kinsmen and enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith…  (8:1)
Matthew—“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  (5:17)
Mark—“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that he thus breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”  (15:39)
Luke—“For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.  (19:10)
John—“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only-begotten Son from the Father.  (1:14)
Acts—“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (2:4)
Romans—“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (6:23)
1 Corinthians—“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  (2:2)
2 Corinthians—“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  (11:3)
Galatians—“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.  (5:6)
Ephesians—“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.  (2:8)
Philippians—“And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.  (2:8)
Colossians—“He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation…  (1:15)
1 Thessalonians—“…that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  (3:13)
2 Thessalonians—“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him…  (2:1a)
1 Timothy—“If you put these instructions before the brethren, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have followed.  (4:6)
2 Timothy—“As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (4:5)
Titus—“But as for you, teach what befits sound doctrine.  (2:1)
Philemon—“I appeal to you [Philemon] for my child, Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment.  (10)
Hebrews—“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.  (8:6)
James—“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.  (2:26)
1 Peter—“But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  (4:13)
2 Peter—“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.  (3:17)
1 John—“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (4:11)
2 John—“And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.  (5)
3 John—“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good.  He who does good is of God; he who does evil has not seen God.  (11)
Jude—“Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  (3)
Revelation—“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…  (19:7)