Why ‘The God Who Speaks’?

We explain how we encounter Jesus Christ because we have a ‘God who Speaks’ and from where our ‘God who Speaks’ initiative takes its name.

The name Jesus spelt out by human beings
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Being a Christian happens because of an ‘encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon‘[1]. That person, that event, is Jesus Christ, and an encounter with him is possible because we have a God who Speaks.

This initiative takes its name from Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 document ‘Verbum Domini’ which beautifully unfolds the place of the Bible in the life of the Church. In that document, Pope Benedict says: ‘God becomes known through the dialogue he desires to have with us.’[2] That dialogue is accessible to us through the words of Scripture and through prayer. The aim of this initiative is to equip people to approach that dialogue and to enter into it so that we can have life-altering encounters with Jesus Christ and come to know him more and more.

It is an extraordinary, revolutionary claim to say that God is a God who speaks. If you look up into the night sky and see the panoply of the stars above you, you might say with the psalmist: ‘what is man that you are mindful of him’? (Psalm 8:4). We can feel so small in this enormous universe of which we are a part, yet the amazing message of our Catholic faith is that the creator knows each of us by name and calls out to us, wanting us to come to know him.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). These words from Hebrews remind us, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reaffirms, that ‘God speaks only one single Word’ (CCC 102) – Jesus Christ. The entire Bible in all its pages and all its words reveals Jesus to us in so many different ways; in poetry, in story, in narrative, in instruction. It’s like a symphony; each instrument playing different notes, combining together to create a harmony that reveals the beauty of God. Some of those instruments can seem quite small and insignificant – perhaps a difficult or complicated passage or one in which we struggle to find Jesus – but remove it, and the symphony will sound slightly off, and incomplete.

‘The God Who Speaks’ initiative provides a range of resources for you to explore the Scriptures in their fullness. You will find outlines of the many different books of the Bible and a basic orientation to help you open up the Bible for yourself. You’ll also find inspiration for how the message God conveys in the Scriptures, is relevant for you in your daily life.

Whilst that dialogue with God happens for us as individuals when we read the Bible, more importantly, it also happens for us collectively as the Church. As the Second Vatican Council said, ‘through the liturgy, rich in the divine word’[3] the Church encounters Christ; so you will find reflections for the Sunday readings, the seasons of the liturgical year, and for the saints.

Pope Benedict goes on to say: ‘The word of God draws each of us into a conversation with the Lord: the God who speaks teaches us how to speak to him.’[4] God wants a real dialogue with us as his people; we receive his communicating with us, and then we return that communication back to him and to the world around us. You will find resources on our website exploring how the Bible forms us in how we respond to our culture, as well as educational resources to help children and young people enter into God’s relationship with us.

God speaks to us in a variety of ways and media, some of these use words while other modes use art, music or other learning styles.  So you will find reflections on paintings, music and videos as just of the many other ways in which people have received the word of God and created something beautiful from it. Since not everyone communicates in the same way, we have Mark’s Gospel signed for our deaf communities, Christmas and Easter resources and other activities for adapted learning.

The Bible is a place of encounter, a meeting room where we can sit down and talk with God. The Holy Spirit breathes through the pages of the Bible making it a ‘living and active’ word (Hebrews 4:12), one in which we find the life of our spirit[5]. Because it is that place where the presence of the Lord can be found ‘the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body’ (CCC 103), and encourages us to ‘learn by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures’[6] the knowledge of Jesus. The Bible is not meant to gather dust on a shelf, it is alive with the Holy Spirit! Our lives as Catholics are nourished when, as Pope Francis says, the words of Scripture are ‘received by a person who prays, making them blossom in his or her heart.’[7]

If we are honest, though, that is not always easy to do. We often pick up the Bible or hear it read in the liturgy and feel nothing, or feel dry, or confused. It can feel anything but a place of exciting and living encounter with God. But, if we persevere in opening up the Bible, listening for the voice of God it contains, and putting what we hear into practice in our lives; ‘when it is received with an open heart, [it] does not leave things as they were before: never. Something changes’[8] and we will grow in our faith and love for God. The God who Speaks initiative is here to provide resources to accompany and encourage you on that journey of encounter, you are not alone!

[1] Deus Caritas Est, 1

[2] Verbum Domini 6

[3] Dei Verbum 25

[4] Verbum Domini 24

[5] St. Bernard of Clairvaux, In Canticle, 16, 1

[6] Dei Verbum 25

[7] Pope Francis Homilies – Pope Francis General Audience 2021.01.27 Prayer with the Sacred Scripture

[8] Ibid