To encounter Jesus Christ is the heart of evangelisation; and during 2020, designated as ‘The God Who Speaks’ Year of the Word, by the Bishops of England and Wales, we are invited to renew that encounter with Jesus through a greater exploration of the Bible. At Mass each Sunday and at various liturgies through the week, indeed in our simplest of prayers we already touch on the riches of the Bible. Yet, it seems that for many Catholics the Holy Scripture feels inaccessible, or that the regular reading of the Bible is for other traditions. Pope Francis tells us, however, that ‘The Sacred Scriptures are the very Source of evangelisation’; and that if we are to evangelise, that is bring others to an encounter with Jesus Christ, then ‘A Christian's first task is to listen to the word of God, to listen to Jesus, because he speaks to us and saves us with his word’. He suggests that we should always carry a small Bible or pocket edition of the Gospels – whether in book or on our smartphone - so that we can explore God’s word whenever and wherever we have few minutes to spare. Pope Francis has also declared that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time will be ‘Sunday of the Word of God’.
Whether it is through the books of Wisdom and the Prophets of the Old Testament, or through the Gospels and Letters of the New Testament, by engaging more fully with the word of God, we come closer to Jesus Christ. We cannot walk with Jesus across the hills of Galilee or along the duty roads to Jerusalem, but we can hear the witness of those who did: ‘We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life’ (1 John 1: 1).
In an increasingly demanding and confusing world let the Bible be our guide. Pope Benedict in his exhortation, Verbum Domini, speaking to young people particularly, says that sacred Scripture can be a ‘compass pointing out the path to follow’.
During this year we particularly follow the Gospel of Matthew, who presents Jesus as a teacher from God, full of wisdom and goodness, and indeed the expected Messiah. Matthew’s Gospel guides the early church, a growing community, as it discovers its mission to the world. Let Matthew guide us in our journey of renewed discovery of Jesus, and of our mission to bring the world closer to the risen Christ.
For more information on ‘The God Who Speaks’ see https://rcdow.org.uk/faith/.
Deacon Adrian Cullen