By Fr Jailos Mpina
The Catholic Church and other mainline denominations will on September 30, 2020 celebrate the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome. He was the one who translated the Bible into Latin, the common language that time, in order to make the Word of God available to the ordinary people. His zeal to make the Bible accessible to people arises from his conviction that ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.
The Year 2020 in the Church also marks the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (Word of God). It also marks the 50th anniversary of the Foundation of the Catholic Biblical Commission. Therefore, the Church will commemorate tripartite anniversaries of Scripture’s role in the Church. The Church has taken key steps to mark the 1600th anniversary indelible to its members.
Last year, His Holiness Pope Francis declared the Year of the Bible. It runs from the first Sunday of Advent in 2019 to the Feast of Christ the Universal King on November 22, 2020.
The Pope invited all Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word. In hi Apostolic letter he underlined the following: the Sunday of the Word of God, the significance of the Bible, the practice of reading the Bible and witnessing its teachings in our lives, and the responsibility of those sharing the word of God with others.
On the fundamental significance of the Bible, the Pope says that the Holy Bible is focused on the Word of God, Jesus Christ. He echoes the words of St. Jerome on the Scriptures and Christ that “the Bible, as Sacred Scripture, speaks of Christ and proclaims him as the one who had to endure suffering and then enter into His glory.”
In February this year, Catholic Bishops of Zambia issued a Pastoral Letter themed ‘Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening’ which called upon youths look up to Jesus Christ. The bishops say: “No matter how much you live the experience of these years of your youth, you will never know their deepest and fullest meaning unless you encounter each day your best friend, the friend who is Jesus.”
There are many role models for the youth in the Bible such as Ruth, Samuel, Joseph son of Jacob, David, Daniel, Timothy and Jeremiah. They are renowned for great things because they listened and obeyed the Word of God. The youth are exhorted to be famous for virtue and not vice.
The Catholic Church in Malawi launched the Year of the Bible on December 1, 2019. Reading materials and pastoral plans have been made available in respective dioceses for implementation.
Biblical expert, Fr. Paul Nampota, urges the youth to read, pray and share the Word of God.
“It is simple. Read, meditate on the Word of God on regular basis. One may use the Liturgical calendar or Bible Month materials to choose a Bible passage to reflect on daily,” he says.
The Year of the Bible invites the youth and young adults to walk the talk on the beautiful documents crafted by the shepherds of the Church to venerate, celebrate, read, pray, study and share the Word of God.
Apart from the Catholic Church, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) with over 600 million evangelical Christians across the world, launched 2020 as the Global Year of the Bible.