Bible Sunday 2008

A circular from the Chairman KCBC Bible Commission

 My Beloved in Jesus, 

This is the Year of the Word of God. The church in Kerala has welcomed this year of the Word of God with great enthusiasm and joy. Almost all the dioceses in Kerala are planning and organizing various programmes to make the Word of God a deep and lasting experience. All these functions highlight the thirst of the people of God for the Word of God and the importance Church and children of God attach to the word of God

The remaining months of the declared Year of the Word of God are of crucial importance. We are going to witness many events that can make us grow steadily in the experience of the Word of God. We are celebrating the Bible Sunday on 22nd June 2008. In preparation for this event, we are observing a Bible week from 16th June to 21st June 2008. In addition, we are opening the ‘Year of St.Paul’, during which we celebrate the greatest proclaimer of the Word of God the world has ever seen. Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has declared the Year of St.Paul from the 28th June 2008 to 27th 2009, in commemoration of his 2000th birth day. The Pope sets apart St.Paul who understood the power of the Word of God and savored its sweetness and dedicated his entire life for the proclamation of the Word of God as an incomparable model and example for all disciples of Jesus. Again, it is against the background of the Synod of the Bishops to be held in Rome from 5th to 20th October 2008 which is centered on this theme, “The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church” that we observe this Year of the Word of God in the Church in Kerala. Let us enter the second phase of the year of the Word of God by observing the Bible week and Bible Sunday and with genuine desire to lead a life centered on Christ and the Word of God.

Word of God for the Fullness of life

The Theme of the Bible week and Bible Sunday is “Word of God for the fullness of life” which is the same as that of the Year of the word of God. The motto of the year of the word of God-“word of God for the fullness of life”- is based on the words of Jesus, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). Let us try to understand this message of Jesus at a deeper level. The Word of God quoted above is taken from the well known passage in John, chapter 6 where John speaks on bread that gives life and again, on bread of Life. Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” as an answer to the question of some of his disciples who found Jesus’ discourse on the bread of life as “difficult”.

The sixth chapter of John begins with three events one after another and concludes with a discourse from Jesus. The first event is Jesus multiplying bread and feeding the crowd. The second is Jesus dispersing the crowd that wanted to make him king and sending the disciples to the other side of the sea of Galilee and himself going up the mountain to be alone in prayer to the Father. The third event is Jesus walking on the sea and coming towards his disciples who were rowing hard against strong wind in the forth watch of the night. All these three events reveal that Jesus presence is the real and existential presence of God the Father Himself. God who fed the Israelites with manna in the desert is represented in the multiplication of the bread for the crowd. Jesus in prayer on the mountain shows that the Father is the very source of Jesus’ being and message. Jesus walking on the sea reveals that all the powers are under him and nothing is impossible for him as he is God himself. All these events reveal that Jesus is theCreator and Lord of all and God of all.

However, without trying to understand that Jesus is God and the source of life, that he is the bread of life, the crowd gathered around him the next day also seeking bread that would appease their material hunger only. Jesus reminded them that those who ate manna which was an ordinary material bread hungered again and they all died in due course of time. Then Jesus declared “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me will never be hungry….whoever eats of this bread will live forever”(John 6:35-59)

Bread is Life; it is a reality that reminds us of the source of life; it is a reality that is to be shared and through sharing to be life giving to others. When Jesus describes himself as the “living Bread” it indicates his Eucharistic presence. Jesus teaches us that he is the Bread, that is real presence of the Father, that to eat his flesh and drink his blood is the sure way to experience his presence and to make his presence possible. Again it points out to us that Jesus is the revelation of the Father and through faith we are to accept this revelation and thereby experience life.

As the Fathers of the Church teaches us, we receive life and nourishment from the table of the word of God and bread of life. To receive fullness of life in the Year of the Word of God, we should associate ourselves with the life that we receive in the Eucharistic bread. Just as bread is life, word as well is life. . Jesus sacrificed himself in order to give himself to us as Bread and Word so that ourselves are led to the fullness of life. Jesus came into this world and dwelt among us to give us life in abundance through his body and word: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (10:10)

However the crowd and his own disciples were not able to understand these revelations of Jesus. They raised questions, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it”(6:60). Seeing this, Jesus told them clearly, “Does this offend you?.... The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”. No one can be with Jesus without accepting this truth. Looking at the crowds and the disciples leaving him, Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “ Lord to whom can we go? you have the words of eternal life”(6:67-68). The Twelve remained with Jesus accepting the truth of Jesus saying: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”. These are the words that constitute the motto of the Year of the word of God and the theme for the Bible Week. There is no dichotomy between the words of Jesus and his inner self as he has appeared among us as the Bread of the presence of the Father and the revelation of the Father. The words of Jesus proceed from his heart; he uses the language of his heart. The heart of Jesus is heart of God. Therefore, we can say, the words of Jesus are spirit and life. We can speak of the spirit of God, the breath of God, the wind, and life; all these indicates the same reality. As Jesus’ Word and person are one and the same, what Jesus says and does and his being are one and the same. The words of Jesus are complete revelation or manifestation as far as humans can understand, of the presence of the Father who is life itself.

This brings us to the knowledge that Jesus is the source of life. To possess that life we should relate ourselves more deeply to his life provided to us through the Word of God and the Eucharist. Therefore we should open ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that the water gushing from Jesus up to eternal life (4:14) should fill us and overflow in to others. Thus the motto- “The word of God for fullness of life”-invites us to receive the Word of God with open minds and embody the word and give witness to the presence of the word and thereby grow into the fullness of life.

The Bible Week

We have prepared a leaflet containing the Bible readings, Biblical thoughts, and prayers to be used in the church and Christian homes during the bible week. This prayer can be used everyday in the church at the conclusion of the Holy Mass and in the families during the evening prayer when the members of the family are gathered. The other programmes that can be organized during the bible week are Bible service, sermons, rallies, cultural competition and installation of Bible in Christian homes. The diocesan directors are informed of the availability of any service required from the part of the KCBC Bible Commission. We would like to remind you that the Year of the word of God should have a befitting conclusion with special programmes organized for the same. We also request your to entrust the fund for the KCBC Bible Commission that is raised as Sunday collection on Bible Sunday with your diocesan centre.

A Bible for each family

We want to make sure that every family in Kerala has a Bible in this year of the word of God. We are happy to inform you that Kerala Catholic Bible Society is organizing a fund (Rs 15 lakhs) for the distribution of Bible to the poor families at a subsidized rate. The amount quoted above may be insufficient for the purpose. There should be no family in Kerala that does not have a copy of the Bible. The Kerala Catholic Bible Society is launching programe“ A Bible for each family”-with the cooperation of generous people to provide a Bible to every poor family that cannot afford a Bible, at a subsidized cost. We look forward to receiving generous contribution from individuals, parishes, religious communities and organizations. We request you to make this noble venture a success through your prayers, cooperation and financial help. Please send your contribution to:
The Secretary
Kerala Catholic Bible Society
Palarivattom 682025

We pray that the observance of this Bible week may become the source of abundance of God’s is blessings and deep experience of God. “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God”. (Col 3:16)
Archbishop Soosa Pakiam
Chairman, KCBC Bible Commission

KCBC Bible Commission Members:
Bishop Geevarghese Mar Divannyasiyos
Bishop Mar. Joseph Porunnedam

N.B: We request you to read this circular in all Catholic Churches and Institutions during the holy mass on 15th June 2008.