VATICAN (Agencies): “I wish you to be good bearers of the Word, with the same enthusiasm that we read these days in the Easter stories, where everyone runs. They run to meet and announce the living Word,” Pope Francis told around 160 participants at the International Congress of the Catholic Biblical Federation (CBF), which took place in Rome from April 23 to 26.
This year’s congress also marked the golden jubilee of the federation, which was founded in 1969. The theme this year was: The Bible and Life: Biblical Inspiration of the Entire Pastoral Life and Mission of the Church (VD 73), Experiences and Challenges.
The gathering featured the Lectio Divina, presentations on Bible ministry, exegesis and hermeneutics, biblical translations, continental sharing of experiences, and more. It was also an opportunity for mutual enrichment in the mission of Christ especially in the Bible ministry.
Members of the CBF celebrated the a 50th anniversary Mass at the Vatican and had an audience with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace on April 26.
The pope stressed the importance of the Bible in the life of the Church.
He said, “It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, loves to work through Scripture. The Word brings the breath of God into the world, infuses the warmth of the Lord in the heart.”
The pontiff continued, saying, “The Word of God is alive: it does not die nor does it age, it remains forever. It is alive and it gives life.”
In the course of the audience, he signed the Chinese translation of the New Testament, which was presented to him by Claretian Father Alberto Rossa.
Quoting from Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 apostolic exhortation, Verbum Domini, Pope Francis said, “It would be nice to see ‘a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that … their personal relationship with Jesus may be deepened’.”
Pope Francis called for the “Word of God to become the heart of every ecclesial activity; the beating heart, which vitalises the limbs of the Body.”
He said, “The Word gives life to each believer by teaching them to renounce themselves in order to announce him.”
The Bible is “constantly calling us to come out of ourselves,” he explained, adding that Word of God helps people to be less self-centred.
“The Word leads to Easter living: as a seed that dying gives life, like grapes that give wine through the press, like olives that give oil after passing through the mill. Thus, provoking radical gifts of life, the Word vivifies,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that the Bible should not remain in the library, but should be brought into the streets of the world where people live.
“The Bible is not a beautiful collection of sacred books to study, it is the Word of Life to sow,” he said.