Together with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, I recently led an ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome, accompanied by 20 Anglican and 20 Roman Catholic pilgrims.
One of the highlights was a general audience of the Pope in St Peter’s Square. There were many thousands of people at that audience, as there are every Wednesday morning, but we were very fortunate to be singled out and warmly greeted by the Pope who asked us for our prayers for him. ‘Don’t forget!’ he added.
At the heart of such audiences is a simple Bible study, given by the Pope in Italian and translated into a number of languages. On this occasion he reflected on the occasion recounted in Acts 8 when the apostle Philip met the Ethiopian who was reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah. As he said:
‘Yet, without a guide, he is unable to understand its full meaning. Philip explains to him how the Old Testament prophecies reach their fulfilment in Christ. As a result, the Ethiopian professes his faith in Jesus, and asks to be baptised. From the baptismal waters he emerges no longer a stranger, but a member of the Body of Christ. The dialogue in this encounter reveals to us the key to reading the Scriptures: namely, Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen all the baptised to follow the example of Philip in bearing witness to the saving power of the Gospel and bringing others to Jesus.’
May we remember that the key to understanding the scriptures is Jesus and bring others to him by witness to the saving power of the Gospel recorded in them.
Rt Revd Dr John Inge
Bishop of Worcester