Misericordia et Misera 7: Celebrate, Know, and Spread the Word

john-8Here is a link for the full document, Misericordia et Misera. Pope Francis explored in section 6 the preaching of the Word of God at Mass and in sacramental liturgies. The theme continues here, emphasizing the place of mercy in both the Old and New Testament.

7. The Bible is the great story of the marvels of God’s mercy. Every one of its pages is steeped in the love of the Father who from the moment of creation wished to impress the signs of his love on the universe. Through the words of the prophets and the wisdom writings, the Holy Spirit shaped the history of Israel as a recognition of God’s closeness and love, despite the people’s infidelity. Jesus’ life and preaching decisively marked the history of the Christian community, which has viewed its mission in terms of Christ’s command to be a permanent instrument of his mercy and forgiveness (cf. Jn 20:23). Through Sacred Scripture, kept alive by the faith of the Church, the Lord continues to speak to his Bride, showing her the path she must take to enable the Gospel of salvation to reach all (humankind). I greatly desire that God’s word be increasingly celebrated, known and disseminated, so that the mystery of love streaming from this font of mercy may be ever better understood. As the Apostle tells us clearly: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

Let’s umpack that desire to “celebrate, know, and disseminate.” Celebration happens at Mass, but also in gatherings perhaps less of a catechetical nature and more in a sense of encounter. A service of the Word, in other words.

Knowledge of and about the Word we do better in some instances, perhaps. Since Vatican II there has been undeniable interest in bible study among Catholics. Even among traditional Catholics I’ve known and encountered online, there is a far deeper willingness to engage the Bible for prayer as well as study.

This second paragraph in section 7 struck me:

It would be beneficial if every Christian community, on one Sunday of the liturgical year, could renew its efforts to make the Sacred Scriptures better known and more widely diffused. It would be a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people. Creative initiatives can help make this an opportunity for the faithful to become living vessels for the transmission of God’s word. Initiatives of this sort would certainly include the practice of lectio divina, so that the prayerful reading of the sacred text will help support and strengthen the spiritual life. Such a reading, centered on themes relating to mercy, will enable a personal experience of the great fruitfulness of the biblical text – read in the light of the Church’s spiritual tradition – and thus give rise to concrete gestures and works of charity.[Cf. Verbum Domini 86-87]

One creative initiative developed in my own parish are nights set aside for a “mercy event.” We had originally designed these to be part of the community’s observance of the Jubilee, but because of popular demand, have decided to continue them indefinitely every few months.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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