STEUBENVILLE, OH – “No matter what we may have done. . . Jesus is waiting for us,” Dr. Edward Sri said at the 2016 Applied Biblical Studies Conference. “He wants to restore us. He doesn’t just want to forgive us, he wants to heal us.”
Sri, professor of theology and vice president of Mission and Outreach at the Augustine Institute in Denver, spoke about how to live the Year of Mercy at the July 27-29 conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The Applied Biblical Studies Conference focused on the Gospel of St. Luke, known among scholars as the gospel of mercy. About 500 participants traveled from 33 states and 5 countries to attend.
“Mercy is an expression of God’s love for us,” said Sri. “Even though we have turned away from him. . . he constantly seeks us out because he’s so in love with us.”
Dr. John Bergsma, theology professor at Franciscan University, spoke about the central themes of meals in the Old Testament and remarked how St. Luke continues them in his gospel. The Gospel of Luke, he said, includes seven meals that “anticipate” the Eucharist and the three meals that “actualize” the Eucharist, which Christ declared a covenant.
“Throughout Scripture,” he said, “we often find covenant making associated with sharing a meal to represent that everyone is one family and they can share a meal together. . . . We’re a family of God because we share the body and blood of the Eucharist.”
Bergsma also encouraged participants to make a point of having a family meal in which all members are present, calling the family dinner table “sacred.”
Dr. Scott Hahn gave a summary of the Gospel of Luke, describing what sets it apart from the other three Gospels. Hahn, who holds the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University, also spoke about the infancy narratives, drawing parallels to the Old Testament and describing Mary’s role as the Mother of Mercy.
“St. Luke contemplated the word, just as Our Lady contemplated it in her heart. So we are challenged to take this word into our heart. Not to become Bible scholars but to become those who feed upon the bread of life; to become more like children of Our Lady full of faith, full of hope, and full of love.”
The worship ministry, led by Dr. Bob Rice, closed the session with a rendition of “Holy Is His Name.”
Dr. Brant Pitre, author and professor of Sacred Scripture at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, spoke on “The Road to Emmaus, the Resurrection, and the Mercy of Christ.” He read multiple sections of the Gospel of Luke where Jesus shows mercy to those he encounters and Jesus’ meeting two of his followers traveling to Emmaus (Luke 23:23-27).
“He rebukes them, yet he shows them mercy,” said Pitre. “He meets them in their doubt, despair, and ignorance; then he takes Scripture, breaks it open. . . and shows them how to follow him.”
Bishop Michael Byrnes of the Archdiocese of Detroit led one of the Thursday afternoon workshops, “The Call of Peter and an Evangelizing Parish: Luke 5:1-11.” He was also the homilist and celebrant for Friday morning Mass.
Other speakers included Father Pablo Gadenz, Dr. Robert Stackpole, Dr. William Bales, Dr. William Wright, Curtis Mitch, David Currie, Father Louis Merosne, Dr. Michael Barber, and Kimberly Hahn.
The three-day conference was preceded by Journey Through Scripture, a day and a half long training in one of three Scripture studies. Participants also had the opportunity to attend two workshop sessions, pray the Rosary each morning, attend Mass, receive the sacrament of reconciliation, and attend Holy Hour.
This year, Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Christian Outreach Office offered 5 adult, 4 young adult, and 23 youth conferences in 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces. Visit steubenvilleconferences.com for a complete list of conferences.