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Check out ‘The Bible in a Year’ podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz
Marcella van Run, Editor-at-Large
When you spend enough time with someone, you start to notice the little things about them – like the funny things they say. You begin to anticipate their reactions and become comfortable in their presence. You come to know them, and often in tandem, to love them.
Every morning, I listen to a podcast that began on the first day of the new year called ‘The Bible in a Year’ podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz. Within a day of its release, the podcast was #1 in America on Apple Podcasts. Releasing one 20-minute episode per day, Fr. Mike works incrementally through a reading plan that will get listeners through the entire Bible in one year. Listening is the closest I’ve ever come to a new year’s resolution, and so far the commitment has been well worth it.
Fr. Mike is a familiar face to anyone acquainted with the online Catholic world. He is known for his work as a speaker, where some of what you might call the “little things” about him are that he talks incredibly fast and tears up often. Spending 20 minutes every morning with Fr. Mike’s podcast has got me noticing some other little verbal quirks. The one that stands out to me most is how often he expresses amazement. “Wow, gosh, man oh man,” is a string of exclamations expressed almost every episode, usually following his reading and short prayer. “Man, oh man” in particular always stands out to me as a testament to the awe, wonder, and love that Fr. Mike has for Scripture.
“Man, oh man,” while sometimes they are words of wonder and excitement, at other times sound like a lament. Mankind stumbles, falls, and gets up again, over and over, like a toddling child. The books of the Old Testament chronicle broken relationships, broken promises, broken families, in a broken world. “Man, oh man” can be a pitiful expression directed at man; a lament at humanity, for trying and failing so many times. But then there is awe and wonder and excitement again, at the grace poured out regardless–at the second chances, and at the overwhelming love.
Christians seek a personal relationship with God; they try to learn to love the one who they call Love Himself. As with any relationship, this one is fostered by time spent in the company of the person you are getting to know. This company can be kept in many ways, and one of those is time spent with Scripture. Listening to this podcast every morning, to the stories of the tribes of Israel, the trials of Job, and the praises of the Psalms, always leaves me with a growing appreciation for the little things. As endearing as Fr. Mike’s “wows” and “man oh mans” are, the more edifying mannerisms are those of the Bible itself; of the way that God speaks in and through Scripture.
In the Book of Job, as with so many other places in Scripture and in life, there is no straight answer for pain and suffering. There are no words that suffice to explain some of our most profound questions. When God finally speaks to Job, after all of Job’s unexplained suffering, He asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:2). As Fr. Mike elucidates: “[God] responds to Job not just with questions; He responds to Job with Himself.”
We don’t get to know people for who they really are through reasoned, methodical accounts of their personality. A relationship can’t be quantified and shouldn’t be overanalyzed into oblivion. Similarly, the Bible is not a textbook, but an epic love story. Spending time with the author is the only way to know the intricacies and details of the relationship in question; to enter the relationship, and to begin to notice the little things.