06/12/2024, 13.50
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Pope at audience: ‘Always have a pocket Gospel’.

In St Peter's Square the weekly catechesis dedicated today to the theme ‘All Scripture is inspired by God’. The Word ‘suddenly illuminates’ when it throws light on life's situations. Recalling the wars, a new appeal: ‘Let us pray for peace’. On St. Anthony of Padua: an example to be ‘credible witnesses of the Gospel’. 

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Today we need peace. War always, from day one, is a defeat. Let us pray for peace, may the Lord give us strength to always fight for peace". This morning at the audience in St Peter's, after reading the reflection on ‘All Scripture is inspired by God. Knowing God's love from God's words’ - part of the new cycle of catechesis “The Spirit and the Bride” begun a fortnight ago - Pope Francis once again invited those listening, during the concluding greetings addressed to Italian-speaking pilgrims, not to forget the places in the world bent by the violence of conflicts: the “tormented Ukraine”, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar, and all “the countries that are at war”. 

After dedicating a thought to ‘young people, the sick, the elderly, newlyweds’, Bergoglio also recalled the liturgical memory of St. Anthony of Padua (1195-1231), ‘priest and doctor of the Church’, which falls tomorrow 13 June.

"May the example of this distinguished preacher, protector of the poor, of the suffering, arouse in each person the desire to pursue the path of faith and imitate his life, thus becoming credible witnesses of the Gospel," he said. Pontiff Ormisda, patron of the Italian city of Frosinone, was also remembered: a delegation from the diocese led by Bishop Ambrogio Spreafico of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, who had come to Rome to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the saint's death, attended the audience.

The reflection read at the opening of the audience moved from the reading of two verses taken from the Second Letter of Peter (2 Pet 1:20-21) in which it is stated, speaking of the Scriptures and the prophets who composed them, that ‘moved by the Holy Spirit those men spoke from God’.

Pope Francis thus focused on ‘the divine inspiration of the Bible’. The Scriptures are in fact made up of ‘inspired’ words that have the capacity to become ‘inspirational’ in their turn. It is the Holy Spirit who has inspired them, who is also the One who ‘explains them and makes them perpetually alive and active’; who, in short, ‘continues, in the Church, the action of the Risen One’.

This action accompanies the reading of Scripture, especially when it ‘suddenly becomes illuminated’. ‘It speaks to us, casts light on a problem we are experiencing, or makes clear God's will for us in a certain situation, and so on,’ Pope Francis said. ‘The words of Scripture, under the action of the Spirit, become luminous.’

At the centre of Scripture, like ‘a beacon that illuminates everything’, is the death and resurrection of Christ. ‘The Church is nourished by the spiritual reading of Sacred Scripture, that is, the reading done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who inspired it,’ Bergoglio added.

He continued: ‘The Church, the Bride of Christ, is the authorised interpreter of the inspired text. In fact, it is the Church that directs the faithful towards the Truth that exudes from the biblical texts, through tools such as lectio divina, or ‘dedicating a time of the day to the personal and meditative reading of a passage of Scripture’.

"I recommend: always have a pocket Gospel, carry it in your bag, in your pockets, so when you are travelling, when you are a little free... you take it and read something. This is very important for life,’ said Pope Francis. 

Thus recalling that the ‘spiritual reading’ of Scripture par excellence is the ‘communal’ one that takes place during the celebration of the Eucharist. The tool the celebrant uses to ‘help transfer the Word of God from the book to life’ is the homily.

"It must be brief: an image, a thought, a feeling. The homily must not be longer than eight minutes. Because afterwards with time you lose attention. And people sleep, they fall asleep, and they are right,’ the Holy Father stressed, addressing priests. Priests ‘talk so much, and so often one does not understand what they are talking about’.

‘Dear brothers and sisters, go ahead with the reading of the Bible,’ the Pontiff concluded. ‘May the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures and now breathes from the Scriptures, help us to grasp this love of God in the concrete situations of life.

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