By Matthew Fowler
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The importance of the Bible in the life of Christians can be seen in the number of faithful around the world who risk prison and persecution just to possess and read the Bible, Pope Francis said.
“Many of our brothers and sisters are in prison on account of the word, and many more have shed their blood as a testimony to their faith in Jesus Christ,” Pope Francis said Oct. 5 during a meeting with members of the church relations committee of the United Bible Societies.
Addressing members of the group, which translates, prints and distributes Bibles around the world, Pope Francis said that just as “we devote time to those we love,” Christians must devote time to reading the word of God, “who desires to talk to us and offer us words of life eternal.”
“It is vital that the church today go out to proclaim the Gospel to all, in all places, on all occasions, without delay, reluctance or fear,” the pope said. “We do so in obedience to the Lord’s missionary mandate, certain of his presence among us until the end of the world.”
The power to share the Gospel effectively comes only when Christians “nourish ourselves at the table of the word,” he said.
Pope Francis told the representatives of the United Bible Societies, a nondenominational organization, that Christians should work together to spread God’s word and should pray together that God’s will for the unity of Christians will be accomplished.