For many Catholics, Francis said, this may be the only time they encounter the beauty of God’s word and see it applied to their lives, therefore the homily must be prepared carefully and with sufficient time: “A commentary on the sacred readings cannot be improvised.”
He also advised against “long, pedantic homilies,” or wandering into unrelated topics: “When we take time to pray and meditate on the sacred text, we can speak from the heart and thus reach the hearts of those who hear us, conveying what is essential and capable of bearing fruit.”
Catechists should also renew themselves and their ministry through personal study of sacred scripture, he added.
The pope referenced at length the Second Vatican Council dogmatic constitution Dei Verbum.
“The Constitution clearly expounds the nature of sacred Scripture, its transmission from generation to generation (Chapter II), its divine inspiration (Chapter III), embracing the Old and New Testaments (Chapters IV and V), and the importance of Scripture for the life of the Church (Chapter VI),” he explained.
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Francis also noted Benedict XVI’s convocation, in 2008, of a synod of bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” and the pope emeritus’ apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, “whose teaching remains fundamental for our communities.”
Verbum Domini “emphasizes the Scriptures’ saving purpose, spiritual dimension and inherent incarnational principle,” he said.
Dei Verbum says “we frequently risk separating sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, without understanding that together they are the one source of Revelation,” Pope Francis commented.
“The written character of the former takes nothing away from its being fully a living word; in the same way, the Church’s living Tradition, which continually hands that word down over the centuries from one generation to the next, possesses that sacred book as the ‘supreme rule of her faith,’” he said.
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.