Lent is a 40-day journey toward Easter. It’s a time of reflection and self-sacrifice, where we are encouraged to pray, fast and give alms.
It’s also a good time to break open the Bible.
This week in Living Our faith, we share ways in which we can make the Bible part of our everyday prayer life and grow our relationship with the Lord. There are many ways to read Scripture, from reflecting on Sunday Mass readings to viewing special Bibles, such as the hand-illuminated Saint John’s Bible.
Too many Catholics are not intimately familiar with sacred Scripture. Many who come to know God’s Word through the Bible have found that it increases their prayer and bears much fruit in their lives.
In a meeting last year with the Catholic Biblical Federation, Pope Francis said that God wants “a Church that does not speak from itself or about itself but has in its heart and on its lips the Lord and draws daily from His Word.” The Bible should not leave people serene, but should cause them to question and to seek, he added. And “a Church that lives by listening to the Word is never content with its own security. It is docile to the unpredictable newness of the Spirit.”
A Church enlivened by the Word, he said, “never tires of proclaiming, never gives into disappointment and never tires of promoting communion, because the word calls people to unity and invites each one to listen to the other.”
The pope also invited Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and His word. The “Sunday of the Word of God,” which is observed the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, was inaugurated by papal decree this year as a designated day for the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.
While the day was designated to “experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of His Word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world,” the pope wrote in the document establishing the special Sunday observance, we need not limit ourselves to just one day a year for appreciating God’s Word.
“A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a yearlong event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak His Word and to break bread in the community of believers.
“The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words,” the pope wrote.
“The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division toward unity” as well as come to understand God’s love and become inspired to share it with others, he added.
When we get to know the Bible better, we are encouraged to share God’s Word with others. And that is an act of true evangelization.