The Catholic’s Companion - Become friends with your Bible

Catholic News, Trinidad, 23rd November 2014

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

“Don’t let your Bible collect dust; let it be your ‘daily companion’ through life’s journey.” This recommendation came from Archbishop Joseph Harris, who said the “compartmentalised lives” people now lived stemmed from a loss of Bible values and their forgetting that God’s word was the source of life.

Archbishop Joseph Harris gestures while speaking at the CiW conference. In the foreground is an enthroned Bible. Photo Dymphana McEachrane.

Archbishop Harris shared this view as he addressed a Catholics in the Workplace (CIW) Conference at the parish hall of Our Lady of Fatima Church, Curepe, on November 15. The Archdiocesan Biblical Pastoral Commission (BPC) was also commissioned at that event.

The Archbishop reminded the audience that Pope Francis had encouraged Catholics to read the Bible in their spare time and wherever they were. “He says to us, ‘Take your Bible, read it; become friends with it so that on all occasions, in all circumstances one can give a Christian response to what we encounter’.”

He said reading the Bible should become a common practice at the personal level, in homes and institutions but “that will only come about when the Bible becomes our companion on the journey.”

He advised the “technologically able” to download the Bible on their iPads and tablets so they could read it any time. He said it was important for the Bible to be treated like a “spouse”, accompanying the Catholic wherever he or she went.

The Archbishop said one of the things which “jumped out” when reading the daily newspapers was the lack of ethical conduct “from top to bottom” in the country.

He said people were upset by the absence of ethics in politicians, the police and the army but stressed that corrupt persons did not just “drop from the sky”; they were a reflection of a society of corrupt individuals.

People pointed fingers at others but, he said, they never asked themselves if they were ethical and whether the choices they made were based on the message of Jesus. He asked how many Catholics, when they returned from a trip abroad, went to the express lane in the airport knowing they had items which should be declared at Customs.

Archbishop Harris said the “problem” was people were attending Mass and receiving the sacrament but not seeing “those daily things as ethical choices”. The example set by adults was also “teaching our young children to be unethical,” he added.

He said he knew many people had a Bible in their homes but evidence of its lack of use could be seen in the dust-free space that was revealed when it was eventually moved.

“Make the Bible the compass of your life, if all of us do that and teach our little ones to do that then we will begin to see a change in the society,” he told the audience. The Archbishop said if Catholics continued to compartmentalise their lives, “we will continue to go to Mass and go to communion on Sunday and will come back into Piarco with $5,000 worth of goods and not declare it.”

By using their Bibles, he said, Catholics were tasked with ensuring God’s message put deep roots in their hearts, “We have to stop compartmentalising our lives; our life is one. We don’t have our business life, and education life and Christian life…everything we do, there is a Christian way of doing it.”

He urged the gathering to “become friends with your Bible please.”

Archbishop Harris then commissioned the apostolate which will guide the Bible ministry in the Archdiocese for the next three years. He was also asked to commission other persons present – catechists, readers, lay ministers and extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist – to participate in the Bible ministry.

Noticing that some people served in more than one ministry, he remarked that this could mean two things – others did not want to do the ministry or others were not being allowed to take part. He hoped for the day when “double or triple up” in ministries would end.

“That day will only come in the measure God’s word teaches us that we have to be people of service or, better yet, servanthood. When that happens, when we have more people wanting to be servants because they are in touch with the word of God then our Bible ministry would have done the work it was supposed to do,” Archbishop Harris said.