The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have designated 2019 - 2021 as 'The God Who Speaks - A Year of the Word’ to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Verbum Domini - Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation on ‘The Word of the Lord’, and the 1600th anniversary of death of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. In keeping with the Church’s three year cycle, there will also be a specific focus on St. Matthew’s Gospel.
The aim of The God Who Speaks - A Year of the Word is ‘Celebrating, Living and Sharing God‘s Word.’ It will be an opportunity for us at St John XXIII to enrich current scripture practices and to develop and explore new ways of responding to the Bible. Throughout the year, we will have events, activities and use creative resources which will help our students engage meaningfully with the Bible. . The Diocese has asked that the year begins in Autumn term but as school we will Launch this in January 2020 by showing the children a commissioned video filmed at the National Gallery in which Cardinal Nichols will officially launch this special year using a painting of St. Jerome.
'To encounter Jesus Christ is at the heart of evangelisation.'
'The God Who Speaks' , now extended to Sunday of the Word of God, 23rd January 2022, encourages us to focus on the Bible. The Bishops of England and Wales, invite us to renew our encounter with Jesus through a greater exploration of the Bible. At Mass each Sunday, at various liturgies in the week and even in our simplest of prayers we already touch on the riches of the Bible. Yet, it seems that for many Catholics the Holy Scripture feels inaccessible, or there is a perception that the regular reading of the Bible is for other traditions. Pope Francis tells us, ‘The Sacred Scriptures are the very source of evangelisation’ and if we are to evangelise, that is, bring others to an encounter with Jesus Christ, ‘A Christian's first task is to listen to the word of God, to listen to Jesus, because he speaks to us and saves us with his word’. He suggests that we should always carry a small Bible or pocket edition of the Gospels, whether in a book or on our smartphone, so that we can explore God’s word whenever and wherever we have few minutes to spare. Pope Francis has also declared that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (in January each year) is designated as ‘Sunday of the Word of God’.
Whether it is through the books of Wisdom and the Prophets of the Old Testament, or through the Gospels and Letters of the New Testament, by engaging more fully with the word of God, we come closer to Jesus Christ. We cannot walk with Jesus across the hills of Galilee or along the dusty roads to Jerusalem, but we can hear the witness of those who did.
‘We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.’ (1 John 1: 1).
In an increasingly demanding and confusing world, let the Bible be our guide. Pope Benedict, in his exhortation, Verbum Domini, speaking to young people particularly, says that sacred Scripture can be a ‘compass pointing out the path to follow’.