Today, along with all Christians throughout the world, we are invited to celebrate what is called Bible Sunday, when we are asked to reflect on the significance of the Word of God in our lives. Today, also, we will commission our Ministers of the Word, as they commit themselves to this important ministry in the life of our parish. What follows in this letter are some points made for our reflection by the Bishops of Southern Africa.
Dear Families, listen to the Word of God, meditate on it together, pray with it, let the Lord
fill your lives with mercy… Everyone should carry a small Bible or pocket edition of the
Gospels and should find at least a few minutes every day to read the Word of God.
“The Church is a community that hears and proclaims the word of God. The Church draws life not from herself but from the Gospel, and from the Gospel she discovers ever anew the direction for her journey. This is an approach that every Christian must understand and apply to himself or herself; only those who first place themselves in an attitude of listening to the word can go on to become its heralds.” (Verbum Domini 51).
Each year the Church in South Africa sets aside a special Sunday to remind us that all of us are heralds of the Word of God. God’s word which is for us spirit and life is a word we are called to share. As St Paul says; ‘Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel’ (1 Cor 9;16). We cannot keep to ourselves the words of eternal life given to us in our encounter with Jesus Christ; they are meant for everyone, for every man and woman, everyone today needs that message.
Jesus himself constantly referred to the word of God. He lived by and constantly fulfilled that word. In Nazareth at the beginning of his public life he picked up the prophet Isaiah to explain that in Him this word was to be fulfilled. He died with a psalm on his lips. Risen from the dead on the road to Emmaus he took his two friends back to Moses and the prophets to explain to them all that had happened to him at Calvary.
Through history the Church has continually draws life from the word of God. Vatican Two teaches what the Bible means for us Catholics; “In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet His children, and talks with them”. The Council calls the Word of God the support and vigour of the Church, the food for the soul, a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life. “The Word of God is living and active” Heb 4; 12
The lives of the great saints in history show us the power of God’s word. St Francis of Assisi on hearing the Scripture read in Church exclaimed; “this is what I want,this is what I ask for, this I long to do with all my heart”
St Teresa of Avila; “All the evil in the world is derived from not knowing clearly the truths of Sacred Scripture”.
The Word, the second person of the Holy Trinity became small, small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the word could be grasped by us. When we listen to God’s holy word, when we bring others to God’s word we come before, we encounter the very person of Jesus.
As Pope Benedict says of meeting the word of God: “We can then see why being a Christian
is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person,
which gives life a new horizon and a definitive direction”.
Our celebration of Bible Sunday, our promotion of the Bible apostolate, our contribution to
the study and knowledge of this life- giving word is the offer of hope and joy to a world greatly in need of light. Today let us listen again to the Risen Jesus who says to us; “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” Mk 16;15.”
As we give thanks today for the gift of the Word of God, let each of us commit ourselves to knowing the Bible more fully, and to live out the Gospel message more deeply each day.
Fr Gerard, CSsR