Father Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ Personalizing the Word

Pope Francis writes, “The preacher ‘ought first of all to develop a great personal familiarity with the word of God. Knowledge of its linguistic or exegetical aspects, though certainly necessary, is not enough. He needs to approach the word of God with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feeling and bring about  a new outlook in him.”

St Therese the little flower says this about the Gospels, “But above all it’s the Gospel that occupy my mind when I’m at prayer, my poor soul has so many needs, and yet this is the one thing needful. I’m always finding fresh lights there, hidden and enthralling meanings.”

We read in Dei Verbum, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.” As Saint Ireanaeus states, “Those who do not share in the Spirit so not draw from the bosom of their mother ‘The Church’ the food of life, they receive nothing from the purest fountain that flows form the body of Christ.”

The church is not superior to God’s word. Every new springtime of the Church begins with a new love for God’s Word. We read in Ezekiel, “I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he had unrolled for me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: lamentation and wailing and woe! He said to me, ‘Son of man..,eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat. ‘Son of man,’ he then said to me, ‘feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you.’ I ate it and it was sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ezek  2: 9-3) We ought to love God’s Word so much that it become our food. 

I remember when I was a deacon in the seminary.  My spiritual director ask me to mediate on the scriptures everyday. I was not in the habit of mediating on the scripture daily. I spent more time and energy reading other spiritual books but not the scriptures. How many people keep up with every alleged message from Mary, but the bible lays on the stand unopened? The gist of our spiritual reading ought to be God’s word. 

Pope Francis writes, “Whoever wants to preach must be the first to let the word of God move him deeply and becomes incarnate in his daily life. In this way preaching will consist in that activity, so intense and fruitful, which is ‘communicating to others what one has contemplated.”

A mother from my first parish would read to her children every night about  how God saw them. She would read to her children every night what God’s word says about them; you are God’s beloved, you are the apple of His Eye, you are precious in his sight, you are a child of God….. These children were blessed to know who they were in Christ because their mother had the word of God incarnate in her daily life. She had eaten the scroll of God’s word and found it sweet in the mouth.

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