Ministry of the Word

Raphael, St. Paul Preaching in Athens (1515)

The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Christian faithful are nourished on “the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body” (Dei Verbum, 21). Along with communion with the Eucharistic Lord Jesus, the Christian faithful are to mediate continually upon Scripture, the written Word of God. Reflection upon and study of the Scriptures is at the heart of evangelisation, as Pope Francis writes,

Not only the homily has to be nourished by the word of God. All evangelisation is based on that word, listened to, meditated upon, lived, celebrated and witnessed to. The sacred Scriptures are the very source of evangelisation. Consequently, we need to be constantly trained in hearing the word. The Church does not evangelise unless she constantly lets herself be evangelised. It is indispensable that the word of God “be ever more fully at the heart of every ecclesial activity” (Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 1).

While the study of the sacred page is the “soul of theology,” Scripture also nourishes in a healthy way the “ministry of the word”—pastoral preaching, catechetics, and all Christian instruction, including the homily (Dei Verbum, 24).  The General Directory for Catechesis remarks, “The ministry of the word is a fundamental element of evangelisation” (n. 50). This ministry takes on a number of forms including initial Gospel proclamation directed to unbelievers, catechesis of catechumens and baptised members of the faithful for sacramental preparation, continuous faith formation for the fully initiated, marriage preparation, homilies and instruction during administration of the sacraments, and theology (General Directory for Catechesis, 51).

“Why what you believe matters” – Robert Barron