I have a whole bookshelf of Bibles and copies of the New Testament. Among them is a Bible bought by my parents in 1958 published by the Caxton Publishing Company Limited. There are full colour plates of Old Masters and in the front a picture of Pope Pius XII and a message from him welcoming this family bible in English to foster our love of Scripture. I don’t remember us actually reading the Scriptures together as a family.
It was in 1959 that Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II, (1962–65), 21st ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church as a means of spiritual renewal for the church. One of key documents to come from this Council was Dei Verbum The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (November 1965) that made clear the relationship between the Word of God and the church’s teaching authority. As one commentary wrote: “the document’s legacy was to encourage countless Catholic to pick up the Bible and read for themselves the Word of God.”
This all came to mind as I read these words from today’s first reading at Mass (Hebrews 4:12-16)
“The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more finely: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit, or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing can hide from him; everything is uncovered and open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.”
Who would not make the word of God something central in our life, after reading these words? Much has happened in the last 55 years to encourage and help us all to make the scriptures a part of our daily life and prayer. There are apps that help us read the Bible and pray with Scripture.
Pope Francis said:
“Let us make room in our lives for the word of God. The Lord gives you his word, so that you can receive it like a love letter he has written to you, to help you realize that he is at your side. His word consoles and encourages us. At the same time, it challenges us, frees us from the bondage of our selfishness and summons us to conversion. Because his word has the power to change our lives and to lead us out of darkness into the light”