For many Catholics, the Bible sits on a shelf at home as a valued family possession but stays mostly unopened and unread. How can we encourage more Catholics to take the Bible down from its shelf and read it?
The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has linked up with the Bible Society to bring resources and ideas that open up the Word of God to Catholics in new ways. The God Who Speaks is an initiative that engages with individuals, parishes and dioceses to promote the 73 books of the Bible among Catholic readers and nurture a deeper Catholic engagement with the Scriptures. This year’s special focus is the Gospel of Mark which we read in the Mass. For the ‘Year of Mark’ there are different initiatives taking place in our Archdiocese.
Archdiocesan pastoral associates, as well as parishioners in general, are responding to the call by recording local Catholics personally reflecting on a particular excerpt from Mark. These short reflections are filmed (on a phone or computer) to encourage others to ponder the Word of God personally and ‘fish with Mark’.
Comments coming out of reflecting on passages from Mark include:
• ‘Can I trust that everything is in God’s hands?’
• ‘How do we use our time wisely, even in lockdown?’
• ‘God sometimes makes us do things we are not comfortable with.’
• ‘God is waiting to forgive us.’
• ‘How often do we welcome everyone, like Jesus did, to our table?’
• ‘If there is a message Jesus has – he says it with the words “follow me”.’
Mark’s Gospel has a message for every man and woman today, and through Scripture anyone can explore God speaking to them in their everyday lives. Scripture is not just for scholars, linguists and clergy. Today God speaks to us all through Sacred Scripture, whether that's in the Mass, the Divine Office, Lectio Divina, through a Bible app on a phone, or in personal reading of Scripture.
Another way the Archdiocese is engaging with The God Who Speaks is through ‘Echoes of God’, a journey through the whole Bible in a seven-week course. Professor David McLoughlin has put together weekly resources that take readers through key passages of the Bible, noting how the Old and New Testaments echo each other. The Scriptures unfold God’s liberating and creative love in the history of Israel and the Church. This course can be followed by individuals, families, friendship groups or in parish online groups. The pastoral associates are offering a Zoom group meeting on Mondays from 7 to 8pm, until 1 March. People can join at any time by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. 'Echoes of God' covers selections from Genesis, Exodus, Prophets, Wisdom, Psalms, the Gospels and the letters of Paul.
How might you engage with Scripture in lockdown and beyond? The Bible Society and Bishops' Conference would like to challenge you to listen to The God Who Speaks whatever your circumstances.
The bespoke Bishops' Conference website: https://www.godwhospeaks.uk/
The Liverpool God Who Speaks Website – including Echoes and Fish with Mark: https://thegodwhospeaks2020.org.uk/