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“The sharing of the Word of God” Key Focus of Pastoral Letter of Bishops in Zambia

Bishops in Zambia who have just issued a Pastoral Letter on the need to share the word of God.

Having dedicated the year 2020 to the reflection of the Word of God with the aim “to venerate, celebrate, study, disseminate and live” the message in the Sacred Scriptures, the Bishops in the Southern African nation of Zambia have emphasized the need to share the word of God, reaching out to various groups in their country with specific recommendations.

The focusing on the Word of God “so that it becomes the centre of all aspects of life,” the Bishops have stated in their Sunday, February 2 pastoral message, “is in line with our Strategic Plan whose vision is: A unified and empowered Conference of Catholic Bishops in Zambia that is inspired by the Word of God.”

In their 19-page pastoral message, the Bishops address themselves to parents, the youth and young adults, men, women, the family, civic and political leaders, catechists, formators, consecrated men and women, and the clergy, with particular recommendations.

“Parents as teachers should impress on the children their spiritual roots, and above all, the sharing of the Word of God with them,” the Bishops appeal and urge parents not to frustrate their children; “instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

The Church leaders draw inspiration from Pope Francis in their appeal to the youth and adults. “If you are young in years, but feel weak, weary or disillusioned, ask Jesus to renew you. With him, hope never fails,” the Church leaders cite the Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation: Christus Vivit.

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“We should never take God’s Word for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, in order to acknowledge and live fully our relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters,” the Prelates advice men.

As heads of their homes, men should “love the Word of God and share it with your families,” the Bishops have advised and further encouraged them to identify role models from Biblical characters and imitate their ways. 

Describing women as the “first evangelisers and witnesses to faith,” the Prelates in Zambia have urged them to take care of their families and support each other guided by the message of the Scriptures. 

The Bishops quoted the Pontiff’s Apostolic Letter, Motu Proprio in a message addressed to women in Zambia, that is, “Listen to sacred Scripture and then practice mercy ... God’s word has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity.”

Speaking to families in their country, the Local Ordinaries in Zambia recommend that members of families have the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus as the “role model in the life of prayer, listening to the Word of God and doing His will.”

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They also appeal to families “to have a Bible and keep it in a worthy place for reading and prayer” and advice that prayer accompanies “the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together.”

Reaching out to civic and political leaders, the Bishops appeal for receptivity so that the Word of God becomes their “counsel and teacher of conscience” and that Jesus becomes their role model.” 

The Prelates also encourage the civic and political leaders to be sources of unity and reconciliation and at the same time exercise their “faith explicitly and your call diligently.” 

Recognizing the role of catechists in faith formation, the Church leaders recommend, “you catechists, too, in your ministry of helping people to grow in their faith, ought to feel an urgent need for personal renewal through familiarity with, and study of, the sacred Scriptures.”

The personal renewal, the Prelates say, “will help you (catechists) foster in your hearers a true dialogue with the Word of God.”

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“Open yourselves to the Word of God, more especially in the study of Holy Scripture, prayer and to the liturgy of the Hours,” the Bishops advice formators.

Consecrated men and women are urged to “live by faith in the Son of God and to love the word of God.” 

To the clergy for whom the Word of God is at the core of their ministry having been “called and commissioned as ministers of the Word,” the Prelates in Zambia quote the Rite of diaconate ordination, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read; teach what you believe; and practice what you teach.” 

In particular, the Prelates appeal to the Clergy to devote time for celebrating the Word of God in the communities they serve because such practice benefits the faithful and “should be considered an important element in liturgical formation.”