Just reading the words of the Bible isn’t enough, says Pope Francis. We have to conform ourselves to what is read, to make a “movement of my existence.”
The pope said this today, referencing his predecessor Benedict XVI, as he continued his reflections on the Acts of the Apostles at the general audience.
He turned to the eighth chapter, which recounts Philip’s ministry to the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch was in charge of the “entire treasury” of the queen of Ethiopia and was returning home after a visit to Jerusalem, reading the prophet Isaiah. Though he had “all the power of money, he knew that without an explanation, he couldn’t understand. He was humble,” Francis noted.
So Philip ran up to [his chariot] and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.
Pope Francis said the dialogue between the apostle and the Ethiopian official “brings us to reflect also on the fact that it’s not enough to just read Scripture. It’s necessary to understand its significance, to find the ‘juice’ within the ‘peel,’ to reach the Spirit that animates the letter.”
He then referred to what Benedict XVI said in 2008, on opening the Synod on the Word of God. The German pope spoke of the need to conform one’s whole life to what we read in God’s word:
Therefore, exegesis, the true reading of Holy Scripture, is not only a literary phenomenon, not only reading a text. It is the movement of my existence. It is moving towards the Word of God in the human words. Only by conforming ourselves to the Mystery of God, to the Lord who is the Word, can we enter within the Word, can we truly find the Word of God in human words. Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us search the word, not only with our intellect but also with our entire existence.
Francis has just named the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God, aiming to help the faithful see “the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with Sacred Scripture.”
Just 2 min a day with the Gospels, and your life will change, says Francis
“To enter into the Word of God is to be willing to go beyond one’s own limits to encounter and conform oneself to Christ, who is the living Word of the Father,” he said at the audience.
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