Friday, 03 November 2017 06:00

Sharper than any two-edged sword

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Sharper than any two-edged sword.”

“What would happen were we to treat the Bible as we treat our mobile phone?
Were we to open it several times a day; were we to read God’s messages
contained in the Bible as we read telephone messages, what would happen?”
    - Pope Francis, Angelus message, 5th March 2017

The Bible is a book of superlatives. It is the most translated, the most widely published, most widely purchased and also most widely read book in the world. And yet it is much more than just a book that one reads once and then leaves on the bookshelf to gather dust. The Bible speaks about God, but above all it is about God speaking to us – the Word of God to us. In the Holy Scriptures God is speaking personally to me, as though in a text message or, still more beautifully, in a love letter. Who would not want to receive a letter or a message directly from God?

The Bible was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Of course, the authors of the various books of the Bible were people of their own times and used the language of the time to express the divine truths. Therefore, the texts have to be read in their own historical and cultural context. Nonetheless, the faith of the Church enables us to perceive that, beneath the many different textual layers of the writing, there is something greater than just a literary work. Our faith in Jesus, the Son of God, gives an inner unity to the Bible and is the key to interpreting all the Sacred Scriptures.

In the person of Jesus the Word of God takes flesh and in doing so breaks through the bounds of human thinking. Only when we have the confidence that the Gospel is describing the real Jesus for us do the Scriptures open themselves up to us as the wonderful history of the divine plan of Salvation.

“For the Word of God is alive and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God stands in judgment over political manifestos, refutes ideologies, and penetrates the very movements of our hearts.The Bible is a book like fire”, says Pope Francis in his preface to the YOUCAT Youth Bible. And he quotes Mahatma Gandhi as saying: “You Christians look after a document containing enough dynamite to blow all civilization to pieces, turn the world upside down, and bring peace to a battle-torn planet. But you treat it as though it were nothing more than a piece of literature.” This is true, and it is because of the dynamic power of the Scriptures that Christians in many countries are persecuted, imprisoned and put to death, simply for possessing a Bible or proclaiming the Word of God.

Dear Friends, nobody would die just for a book – but they might for a declaration of love! So let us once more give the Holy Bible an honored place in our homes, let us read it often and pray with its help. The more we treasure the words of God, like Mary, and ponder them in our hearts – and then put them into practice – the more the meaning of the Scriptures will be opened to us and we will recognize ever more deeply the fullness of God’s love for us.

With my grateful prayers and blessings,

Fr. Martin Maria Barta
Ecclesiastical Assistant

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Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a foundation of the Holy See, was promoted by Pope Pius XII and founded by P. Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, to pastorally help the Church in need or those suffering persecution throughout the world. It develops more than 5,000 projects per year in more than 140 countries throughout the world including the building or rebuilding of churches, support for vocations, means of transportation, editing of catechetical material and emergency help for the displaced. ACN seeks to promote prayer, inform and be a source of charity for the poor in the Church and those persecuted throughout the world.

Aid to the Church in Need is author and editor of the Blog "Witnesses of Hope", which can be found on the website