ROME — Pope Francis urged Christians Sunday to give God’s word pride of place in their lives and in their homes, calling the Bible “a love letter, written to us by the One who knows us best.”
In the pope’s homily Sunday, he invited Christians to “ask the Lord for the strength to turn off the television and open the Bible, to turn off our cell phone and open the Gospel.”
The homily, prepared by Pope Francis, was read by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, standing in for Pope Francis who was suffering from an attack of sciatica.
In reading God’s word it, “we again hear his voice, see his face and receive his Spirit,” the pope said. “That word brings us close to God. Let us not keep it at arm’s length, but carry it with us always, in our pocket, on our phone.”
“Let us give it a worthy place in our homes,” he continued. “Let us set the Gospel in a place where we can remember to open it daily, perhaps at the beginning and at the end of the day, so that amid all those words that ring in our ears, there may also be a few verses of the word of God that can touch our hearts.”
Reading even a brief passage of the Bible each day “will make us feel God’s closeness to us and fill us with courage as we make our way through life,” Francis said.
The pope’s reflections revolved around the “Sunday of the Word,” a day dedicated to remembering the Bible’s centrality in the lives of Christians.
Before all else, “we must believe and proclaim that God has drawn near to us, that we have been forgiven and shown mercy,” the pontiff said. “Prior to every word of ours about God, there is his word to us, his Word who continues to tell us: ‘Do not be afraid, I am with you. I am at your side and I will always be there.’”
The word of God enables us to touch this closeness, since “it is not far from us, it is near to our hearts,” he said. “It is the antidote to our fear of having to face life alone.”
“In speaking to us, he reminds us that he has taken us to heart, that we are precious in his eyes, and that he holds us in the palm of his hand,” he said.