By Lydia O'Kane
In order to highlight the fruits of its 50 years of activity, the Catholic Biblical Federation has been holding an International Biblical-Pastoral Congress this week under the theme "Word and Life, Biblical Animation of the life and pastoral activity of the Church".
And it was on this theme of “Word and life” that the Pope dwelt on in his remarks on Friday to those gathered in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.
The word of God is alive
He told them that, "The word of God is alive"; it does not die or even age; it remains forever, adding that it was “the Holy Spirit, the life-giver, who loves to work through Scripture.”
“The Word brings God's breath into the world”, underlined Pope Francis, “it infuses the heart with the warmth of the Lord. All the academic contributions and volumes that are published are and cannot but be at the service of this”, he said.
The Word of life to be sown
But the Pope also pointed out that, “the Bible is not a beautiful collection of sacred books to study, it is the Word of life to be sown…”
The Pontiff emphasized that in the Church, “the Word is an irreplaceable injection of life. That is why homilies are fundamental”, he said. Preaching, he continued, “is not an exercise in rhetoric, nor is it a set of wise human notions. Instead, it is a sharing of the Spirit, of the divine Word that touches the heart of the preacher, who communicates that warmth, that anointing.”
Pope Francis expressed the hope that there would be "a new season of greater love for Sacred Scripture flourishing on the part of all the members of the People of God”, so that it would deepen our relationship with Jesus.
The Pope explained that the Word “gives life to each believer by teaching them to renounce themselves in order to proclaim Him.” He went on to say that, “in this sense it acts like a sharp sword which, entering into the depths, discerning thoughts and feelings, brings to light the truth, wounds to heal.”
The Word and the Church
A Church that lives by listening to the Word, said Pope Francis, “is never satisfied with its own security. She is docile to the unpredictable novelty of the Spirit.”
He also painted a picture of a Church that feeds on the Word, and lives to proclaim it. The Word of God, said Pope Francis is the “best vaccine against closure and self-preservation”.
In conclusion, the Pope said, the Word of God and life should embrace each other and should not be without one another. He also prayed the Bible would not remain in a library but would be proclaimed through the streets of the world where people await it.