Dear children! Listen, because I wish to speak to you and to invite you to have more faith and trust in God, who loves you immeasurably. Little children, you do not know how to live in the grace of God, that is why I call you all anew, to carry the word of God in your heart and in thoughts. Little children, place the Sacred Scripture in a visible place in your family, and read and live it. Teach your children, because if you are not an example to them, children depart into godlessness. Reflect and pray and then God will be born in your heart and your heart will be joyous. Thank you for having for responded to my call.
August 25, 1996
Little children, open your hearts and give me everything that is in them: joys, sorrows and each, even the smallest, pain, that I may offer them to Jesus; so that with His immeasurable love, He may burn and transform your sorrows into the joy of His resurrection. That is why, I now call you in a special way, little children, for your hearts to open to prayer, so that through prayer you may become friends of Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.
part message, February 25, 1999
“Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and explained the Scriptures to us?” This line from the Gospel passage about the disciples of Emmaus brings us to reflect on the Scriptures.
There are two ways to approach the Bible. The first is that of considering it an old book, full of religious wisdom, of moral values, and of poetry too. From this point of view it is absolutely the most important book for understanding our Western culture and the Judeo-Christian religion. It is also the most printed and read book in the world.
But there is another, much more demanding way to approach the Bible, and it is that of believing that it contains the living word of God for us, that it is an “inspired” book, that is, written, indeed, by human authors, with all of their limitations, but with God’s direct intervention. A very human book and, at the same time, divine, that speaks to men of all times and reveals to them the meaning of life and death.
Above all it reveals to them God’s love. If all the Bibles in the world, St Augustine said, on account of some disaster, would be destroyed and there remained only one copy and, of this copy, all of the pages were illegible save for one, and on this page only one line were legible; if this line were that of the first letter of John that reads “God is love,” the whole Bible would be saved because it is summed up in this statement. This explains how it is that so many people approach the Bible without culture, without great education, with simplicity, believing that it is the Holy Spirit that speaks in it and find in it answers to their problems, light, encouragement, in a word, life.
The two ways of approaching the Bible – the way of erudition and the way of faith – do not exclude each other, on the contrary, they must be united. It is necessary to study the Bible, the way in which it should be interpreted (or to pay attention to the findings of those study it in this way), so as not to fall into fundamentalism.
Fundamentalism consists in taking a verse from the Bible, just as it sounds, and applying it to today’s situations, without taking into account the difference of culture, of time, and of the different genres of the Bible.
It is believed, for example, that the universe is little more that 4,000 years old since this would seem to be what we can calculate from the information that the Bible provides, while we know that the universe is some billions of years old. The Bible was not written as a textbook of natural science, but for salvation. God, in the Bible, adapted himself to the way of speaking of the men of the time so that they could understand; he did not write only for the men of the age of technology.
On the other hand, to reduce the Bible to an object of study and erudition, remaining neutral to its message, is to kill it. It would be as if a man, receiving a letter from the woman he loves, were to examine it with a dictionary, from the point of view of grammar and syntax, and stops at these things, without grasping the love that is in it.
Reading the Bible without faith is like trying to read a book at night: nothing can be read, or at least one does not read what is essential. Reading Scripture with faith means reading it in reference to Christ, grasping what refers to him on every page, just as he did with the disciples of Emmaus.
Jesus remains with us in two ways: in the Eucharist and in his word. He is present in both: in the Eucharist under the form of food, in the Word under the form of light and truth. The word has a great advantage over the Eucharist. Only those who already believe and are in a state of grace can receive communion; but everyone, believers and nonbelievers, married people and divorced people, can approach the word of God. Indeed, to become a believer, the most normal route is that of listening to God’s word.