Pope Francis issues a Lenten challenge
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday called on Christians to consult the Bible with the same frequency as they might consult their cellphones for messages.
Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square following his weekly Angelus blessing, the Pope urged those present to give the Bible the same place in daily life as cellphones and asked: “What would happen if we turned back when we forget it, if we opened it more often each day, if we read the message of God contained in the Bible the way we read messages on our cellphones?”
The Bible, he explained, contains the Word of God, the most effective tool in fighting evil and keeping us close to God.
Clearly, Francis said, the comparison between the Bible and the cellphone is paradoxical, but it induces us to reflect.
“If we always carried God’s Word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path towards good” he said.
He pointed out that in this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of Matthew tells of Jesus’s forty days in the desert and of how he was tempted by the devil.
With his temptations, the Pope said, Satan wanted to divert Jesus from the path of obedience and humbleness — because he knew that this was the way to conquer evil — and he wanted him to take the false shortcut towards glory and success.
“But the devil’s poisonous darts are all ‘blocked’ by Jesus with the shield provided by God’s Word” he said, pointing out that Jesus never uses his own words but only God’s Word, and thus, filled with the force of the Holy Spirit, he victoriously crosses the desert.
Pope Francis invited all Christians to follow in Jesus’ footsteps during the forty days of Lent and to confront the spiritual battle against evil with the strength of God’s Word.
“That is why, he said, we need to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, reflect upon it, and assimilate it.
“The Bible contains the Word of God which is always topical and effective,” he said.
Inviting the faithful to carry a pocket-sized Gospel all the time, the Pope concluded, saying: “Do not forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us!”