Pope Francis has written a beautiful introduction to a new publication of the youth edition of the Bible in German - YOUCAT Bible, whose full translation I offer here:
"Dear young friends,Wow! The simplicity of Francis' words and the love of God that exudes from them make me smile and wish to share them with my sons as soon as I can.
if you saw my Bible, it could be that you wouldn't particularly like it: What - this is the Pope's Bible! Such an old, worn book! You could give me a new one for $ 1,000, but I would not want it. I love my old Bible, which has accompanied me during half my life. It saw my joy and it got wet from my tears. It is my most precious treasure. I live from it. I wouldn't swap it for anything in the world.
The Youth Bible that you have opened, I really like. It's so colorful, so rich in testimonies - testimonies of the saints, testimonies of young people - and it entices to start a reading at the beginning and only to stop on the last page. And then…? And then you'll hide it. It disappears on a shelf, at the back of the third row. It gathers dust. One day your children then flog in a car boot sale (mercadillo). No, that mustn't happen.
I'd like to tell you something: There are more persecuted Christians today than in the early days of the Church. And why are they persecuted? They are persecuted because they wear a cross and bear witness to Jesus. They are convicted because they own a Bible. The Bible is therefore a highly dangerous book. So dangerous that you are treated in some countries as if you hoarded hand grenades in your wardrobe. It was a non-Christian, Mahatma Gandhi, who once said: "You Christians have in your care a document with enough dynamite in it to blow the entire civilization to pieces, to turn the world upside down to bring this war-torn world peace. But you are treating it as if it were merely a piece of good literature - nothing else."
So what is it that you are holding in your hands? A piece of literature? A couple of beautiful old stories? Then we'd have to say to the many Christians who have let themselves be imprisoned and tortured for the Bible: How stupid you were, it's just a piece of literature! No, by the word of God, light has come into the world. And it will never go out again. In Evangelii Gaudium (175) I said: "We do not blindly seek God, or wait for him to speak to us first, for “God has already spoken, and there is nothing further that we need to know, which has not been revealed to us”. Let us receive the sublime treasure of the revealed word."
So, what you are holding in your hands is something divine: a book like fire! A book through which God speaks. So remember: The Bible is not meant to be placed on a shelf, but to be kept close at hand, to read from it often, every day, both alone and together. You are playing sports together and go shopping together. Why don't you read the Bible in pairs, as three, four together? Out in nature, in the woods, on the beach, at night, in the glow of a few candles ... You will make a tremendous experience! Or are you perhaps scared of making a fool of yourself by suggesting that to each other?
Read with attention! Do not stay on the surface like when reading comics! Never just skim the Word of God! Ask yourself: "What does this say to my heart? Does God speak through these words to me? Does He touch me in the depths of my desires? What should I do?" Only in this way can the power of the Word of God unfold. Only in this way can our lives change, can it become great and beautiful.
I would like to tell you how I read my old Bible! I often pick it up, read a bit from it, then I put it away and let myself be looked at by the Lord. It is not I who looks at the Lord, but HE who looks at me. HE is here. I let myself be looked upon by him. And I feel - that is no sentimentality - I feel deeply the things that the Lord tells me. Sometimes he does not speak. Then I feel nothing, only emptiness, emptiness, emptiness ... But I remain there patiently, and so I wait. Reading and praying. Praying while sitting, because it hurts me to kneel down. Sometimes I even fall asleep while praying. But that does not matter. I'm like a son with the father, and that's important.
Would you like to make me happy? Read the Bible!
Your Pope Francis"