58 years ago I was presented a copy of the New Testament from the St Bede’s Sanctuary Guild. Inscribed is the inside was “Awarded to Anthony Charlton for the best attendance during the Year.” It was a translation from the Latin done by Ronald Knox. At home my family had a lavishly printed Family Bible which was purchased in 1958 with wonderful prints from old masters depicting various stories from Scripture. I don’t think we ever read it as a family.
In 1965 the bishops at the Second Vatican Council promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine revelation (Dei Verbum) which was instrumental in changing the way we Catholics understood the Scriptures. It inspired a new generation of biblical scholars, helping to imbue Catholic Worship with the Scriptures and encouraged countless Catholics to pick up the Bible and read for ourselves the word of God. Today Pope Francis is inviting Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word. That’s why, as established by a papal decree – the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 26 this year, is to be observed as a special day devoted to “the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”. As you know the Bishops of England and Wales have designated this year 2020 as “The Year of the Word.” Their vision is that “Scripture is foundational to the life of the church and so we want to celebrate, share and live out our faith through deeper Scriptural engagement.” The question we need to ask ourselves is; “What place does Scripture have in my life?” Is it a New Testament presented years ago or a family Bible that remains on my bookshelf unread?
This Sunday at all Masses before the Liturgy of the Word the bible you have bought to Mass will be blessed. After the priest has blessed the Bible he says: “Make the Scriptures your constant study so that you may grow daily in the imitation of Christ” Pope Francis writes in his Apostolic letter about Sunday as the Word of God (Aperuit Illis) “We should never take God’s word for granted but instead let ourselves be nourished by it in order to acknowledge and live fully a relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters” (paragraph 12).
In the Mass we are reading the Gospel of Matthew throughout the year. We have provided free copies of this Gospel. It is the New Revised Standard Version. Take a copy. Let it be in your pocket or handbag and find time to read it regularly. Take a copy of the newsletter home with you to use the Sunday readings as a source of your prayer during the week. Pick up a copy of The Wednesday Word that can help you prepare to hear next Sundays’ readings. Come to the last of the sessions on the Scriptures, “Praying with the Parables” this coming Wednesday at 7:30pm in the Hall.