No other book Other than Bible has same power to transform lives: Pope Francis

Transform lives through God’s word 
The American Bible Society’s mission statement is “to transform lives through God’s word” and in his greetings to members of the society in the Vatican on Wednesday, Pope Francis encouraged them to pursue and even intensify their commitment, to that mission.The Pope went on to stress that “truly the word of God has the power to transform lives, and quoting from the Letter to the Hebrews, he said, it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…” The Pope underlined that “no other book has the same power.” In its word, he continued, “we recognize the Spirit who inspired it: for only in the Spirit can Scripture truly be received, lived and proclaimed, for the Spirit teaches all things and reminds us of all that Jesus said.”

Double edge sword
The Pontiff explained to those present that God’s word “is honey, offering the comforting sweetness of the Lord, but also a sword bringing a salutary unrest to our hearts. For it penetrates to the depths and brings to light the dark recesses of the soul. As it penetrates, it purifies.” The double edge of this “sword”, he said, may at first wound, but it proves beneficial, for it cuts away everything that distances us from God and his love.Finally, Pope Francis noted that God’s word judges thoughts and intentions. “The word of life is also truth and his word “creates” truth in us, dissipating every form of falsehood and duplicity. Scripture constantly challenges us to redirect our path to God. ”Letting ourselves “be read” by the word of God, said the Pope, enables us to become in turn “open books”, living reflections of the saving word, witnesses of Jesus and proclaimers of his newness.

Pope to Scholas youth: ‘Don’t wear a mask, life is not a carnival’
In a video message to the youth of Scholas Occurrentes, Pope Francis urges them to be faithful and sure of their own identity. He asks that young people avoid masking who they really are when meeting new people, because “life is not a carnival.”Scholas Occurrentes, Latin for “schools that meet”, is an educational project launched in 2001 by Pope Francis encouraging integration and encounter through sports, arts and technology.

Who are you?
“The question of ‘identity’ is not an easy one”, says the Pope. It makes you ask yourself: “who am I?”, a question that goes hand in hand with another: “What is the meaning of my life?” This, says the Pope, is not something you can answer quickly, nor is it something you can “forget” about. It is a question, he says, that you need to keep asking yourself, in all openness.The Pope goes on to say that our identity is not “information you can look up on the internet”. We are not something “defined” or “established”. “We are on a journey; we are growing”, says the Pope.

He says we are the authors and the readers of the stories of our lives, and that each step we take is a chapter. But, he says, “we are not the only authors”. Each identity has its story, explains the Pope, and therefore belongs to “something bigger than yourself”. He says identity comes from a family, from a country, from a community – each identity has its own roots.

Remember, you belong
Pope Francis says that the danger of our times is precisely when an identity “forgets its roots”, which causes a person with fear or as an enemy. That, says the Pope, “is where war begins”, from something small, escalating.So, the Pope continues, to avoid this violence we need constant reminders of our belonging, of our roots. We need consistent new encounters, and in each encounter we must be able to be ourselves. We need the constant memory of our own “belonging”.

Pope Francis goes on to urge the young people “not to sell what is deeply imbedded within us”, that is, our sense of belonging and our identity. He said that, in the journey of life, we “meet different people with different identities - all enriching each other, creating solidarity.”

Have no fear
Finally, the Pope thanks all those that made the International Youth encounter possible, especially the young people themselves. “You allow life to tell your story”.

So, he says, “Don’t be afraid.”