“Do I let the Word of God touch my heart, or do I stay there looking at the ceiling and thinking of other things?
Pope Francis asked this question during his daily weekday Mass on October 3, 2019, in his residence, Casa Santa Marta.
“Sunday is the day of the people’s encounter with the Lord, stressed the Holy Father in his homily — the day of my encounter with the Lord . . . it’s a day of encounter.” However, “the celebration of Sunday isn’t understood without the Word of God.”
Meditating on the First Reading (Ne 8:1-4a.5-6.7b-12), where the people “wept with emotion” on hearing the Word of God, the Pope asked several question as an examination of conscience.
“When we hear the Word of God, what is happening in our hearts? Do I follow the Word of God attentively? Do I let it touch my heart, or do I stay there looking at the ceiling and thinking about other things, and the Word enters one ear and goes out the other, without reaching my heart? . . . How do I listen to the Word of God? Or don’t I listen to it? How do I recognize the Lord in his Word, which is the Bible?
“Do I prepare myself so that the Word will reach my heart? And when the Word reaches my heart, are there tears of joy and celebration,” he continued asking. In fact, “the Word of God makes us joyful; the encounter with the Word of God fills us with joy and this joy is my strength — it’s our strength,” he added.
Christians, the Holy Father pointed out, “are joyful because they have accepted, they have received the Word of God in their heart and they encounter the Word continually; they seek it. It’s today’s message for all of us . . . Am I convinced that the joy of the Lord is my strength? Sadness isn’t our strength.”
Francis recognized that he who encounters the Lord in His Word thinks it’s a “dream,” since “we can’t believe in so much beauty.”
Pope Francis concluded, praying: “Let us hope that “the Lord will give us all the grace to open our heart for this encounter with his Word and not to be afraid of joy, not to be afraid of celebrating joy.”