Pope Francis recently wrote the preface to the new Youth Bible. What he says is amazing, and we encourage you to read it in full. His words are challenging, insightful and encouraging. He speaks from his own experience of reading the Bible and exhorts us to remember Christians past and present who have gone to prison or even been martyred for the simple act of reading their Bible.
The full text can be found here. Then go and pick up your Bible and get started!
1. “I love my old Bible, which has accompanied me half my life. It has been with me in my times of joy and times of tears. It is my most precious treasure. I live out of it, and I wouldn’t give anything in the world for it.” (*Disclaimer: not a photo of Pope Francis’ actual Bible. We only wish we were that cool!*)
2. “There are more persecuted Christians in the world today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible. The Bible is therefore a highly dangerous book—so dangerous that you are treated in some countries as if you were hiding hand grenades in your closet.”
3. “It was a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said: ‘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 is nothing more than a piece of literature.’”
4. “So what do you have in your hands? A piece of literature? Some nice old stories? Then you would have to say to the many Christians who go to prison or are tortured because they own a Bible: ‘How foolish you are; it’s just a piece of literature!’”
5. “We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for ‘God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us.’ Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word.” Evangelii Gaudium 175
6. “You have something divine in your hands: a book like fire! A book through which God speaks. So notice: The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be in your hands, to read often—every day, both on your own and together with others.”
7. “You do sports together or go shopping together. Why not read the Bible together as well—two, three, or four of you? In nature, in the woods, on the beach, at night in the glow of a few candles … you will have a great experience!”
8. “Ask yourself: ‘What does this say to my heart? Does God speak through these words to me? Has he touched me in the depths of my longing? What should I do?’”
9. “I want to tell you how I read my old Bible. Often I read a little and then put it away and contemplate the Lord. Not that I see the Lord, but he looks at me. He’s there. I let myself look at him. And I feel—this is not sentimentality—I feel deeply the things that the Lord tells me. Sometimes he does not speak. I then feel nothing, only emptiness, emptiness, emptiness…. But I remain patiently, and so I wait, reading and praying. I pray sitting, because it hurts me to kneel. Sometimes I even fall asleep while praying. But it does not matter. I’m like a son with the father, and that is what’s important.”
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