Pastoral message on closing of the Year of the Word of God
These were the words of Jesus Christ to assure His disciples that God would be on their side, even in the darkest days of their lives. Now that we are currently facing the pandemic caused by Covid-19, God assures us that He will never abandon us. We should not be in despair because we firmly believe that God will restore all things in Christ in due time.
As we face the CoVid-19 pandemic, it is timely that our Church dedicates this year 2020 to be the “Year of the Word of God” from the First Sunday of Advent (December 1, 2019) until the feast of St. Jerome (September 30, 2020). This year commemorates the 1600th Death Anniversary of St. Jerome who translated the Scriptures into Latin which made the Word of God understandable to ordinary people. In this spirit, we are challenged to renew our efforts to actively listen to the Word of God and be inspired by it in carrying out our mission as members of the Church. With this, I invite all the dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, parochial and catholic schools, lay associations and religious movements to engage the faithful in appreciating the Word of God. Now is the best time to let the people experience and witness the love of Jesus Christ by spreading His words and deeds to all.
We are not only experiencing the horror of CoVid-19 pandemic but also the danger of the pandemic of deception and falsehood in our society. There is now a big challenge for all of us to be vigilant in discerning the genuine truth in our words and deeds. The written Word of God can definitely aid every person in refuting all the errors which the society falsely believes. And this falsehood, unfortunately, we have noticed with great dismay how it has, very subtly, distorted our way of looking at the world and corrupted our way of responding to the challenges that confront us today. St. Paul says, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)” Instead of spreading negative thoughts and depraved reactions, we are challenged to share the Word of God especially to the hopeless and the needy in this time of the pandemic. Instead of deceiving others, we should persistently proclaim the truth of God’s love for all of us.
We are also in the middle of the pandemic of indifference and selfishness. Because of the need for social distancing, we might distance ourselves from the people who desperately need your love and help. This pandemic should not make us indifferent and selfish. Rather, we should be inspired all the more to live out the gospel of love proclaimed by our Lord Jesus Christ through our words and actions. St. Paul says, “so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” (Romans 12:5) We are part of one another, even if we are apart from each other. With this, let us invite one another to listen together to the Word of God to have a shared experience of God’s love. When we see things together through the Word of God, we will know how to express our love for one another through our actions. When we live together in the Word of God, we shall become a beacon of unity for all men and women especially during this pandemic.
With joy and gratitude in our hearts we pray that through the intercession of St. Jerome, whose feast we celebrate today, we too may be filled with fervor to translate the Word of God into deeds of compassion that will engage us all in the work for true justice and peace in our world.
Finally, Pope Francis, in his homily during the Sunday of the Word of God last January 26, 2020, he reminded us with these words, “God came to visit us in person, by becoming man. He did not embrace our human condition out of duty, no, but out of love. “As parts of the Body of Christ, similarly, we need to embrace one another with the love of Jesus Christ. The Word of God working in us is our constant assurance that our God will never abandon us.+ Sofronio A. Bancud, S.S.S., D.D.
Bishop of Cabanatuan
Chairman, Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate
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