This was the central message of the recently held Bible Sunday Seminar

Verbum Dei Srs Sandra Seow (left) and Monika Punan leading a Bible reflection during the Bible Sunday Seminar. Photos: RUN & GUN MEDIA

By Christopher Khoo

The message of the Bible can be summed up in one word – relationship. Through engaging with God’s word in Scripture, people can enter into a dialogue with God and become prophets of His word.

Verbum Dei Sr Sandra Seow had this message for the 420 participants who attended the Bible Sunday Seminar on July 8 at Catholic Junior College. The seminar had the theme, Listeners of the Word, Prophets of Today.

“Jesus is present in the Word of God,” said Sr Sandra, director of the Archdiocesan Biblical Apostolate, in her keynote speech. He wants to bring us into “a personal relationship with Him”.

She gave as an example the passage in Genesis 3:8-9 in which God asked Adam and Eve after they had sinned, “Where are you?”

The word “where” has an additional meaning, she said. “God is asking Adam and Eve: where is your heart? Where are you in your relationship with me?”

Similarly, said Sr Sandra, “God is asking each of us: Where are you? … Are you with me or are you away from me?”

But how does one get to know God more?

Sr Sandra noted that both St Jerome and Pope Benedict XVI have stressed the importance of reading Scripture.

One way of building a relationship with God is by reading the Bible attentively and asking Him, “What do you have to say to me through this passage?”

The crowd at the seminar held in Catholic Junior College.

“When we read, something is stirred inside,” said Sr Sandra. And when one really listens, “the Holy Spirit pushes us to be ‘doers of the Word’”, people who put God’s Word into practice in their lives.

“Our lives are transformed more and more” and we become more Christ-like, she said.

From being “listeners of the Word”, Christians grow to “become prophets of the Word”, said Sr Sandra.

“We are all called to mission,” she stressed. Christians are called to be prophets and to proclaim God’s word, she said.

Like Jesus, prophets are called to speak the “language of love and the language of truth”. The aim is to seek the good and the growth of others, she said.

“As we celebrate Bible Sunday, let us ask for the grace to be listeners of the Word and prophets of today.”

A guided reflection on praying with Scripture followed, focusing on Matthew 11: 28-30.

Two people then shared their personal experiences of listening to God and acting on His word.

Archbishop William Goh urged Catholics to share the Word of God with their families and colleagues.

Ms Desiree Hwang shared how a difficult relationship with another person was slowly being transformed through listening to the Word of God.

A couple of weeks ago, she had wanted to speak to this person to tell her how her behaviour was negatively affecting people around her.

Ms Hwang decided to pray about it and the Bible passage she happened to be reading then was 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage on love.

Ms Hwang said she felt God asking her whether she saw this person “with the same hope-filled joy that He sees when He looks at me?”

She shared that she felt prompted to improve the relationship one step at a time, by just saying “hi” to the person when she saw her. She added that eventually she hopes to be able to get to a “proper ‘how are you?’”

Speaking at the seminar: Ms Desiree Hwang (left) and Ms Nicole Jegathesan.

Ms Nicole Jegathesan shared about her experiences being God’s “prophet” to others while coping with challenges such as severe health problems in her family.

“He doesn’t call me to speak when everything is fine, when there are blue skies above and the sun is shining bright,” said the mother of three. “Oftentimes, God calls me when I’m downright tired, when I’ve got nothing left.”

One passage that has inspired her is Luke 22:32, Jesus’ prayer for Peter for a strong faith.

Ms Jegathesan shared her experience relating to a person who used to live in her neighbourhood. This man used to be shunned by others as he was very loud, looked angry and used to shout at children.

Despite her discomfort at his behaviour, she struck up a friendship with him and eventually went on to become his confidante and support, especially in his decision to quit smoking.

In his homily during the Mass, Archbishop William Goh shared two “childlike” ways of praying in which Catholics can get to know God the Father better.

These are Lectio Divina (Latin for “divine reading”) and Ignatian contemplation “which the Church has recommended” for years.

When using a Bible passage for Lectio Divina, “you read over it, you pray over it, you meditate on it”, said Archbishop Goh.

He added that this is “a powerful way in which people hear the word of God directly and engage in a deep relationship with Him”.

Ignatian contemplation, on the other hand, calls for the use of one’s imagination. For example, one can take a biblical scene in which Jesus is present, “and then you enter into that scene, trying to identify with the characters, imagining what He’s saying, what Jesus is doing”, said Archbishop Goh.

He urged Catholics to share the Word of God with their families and office colleagues. “If you can do it, I can assure you – your faith will be strong”.

This was the second Bible seminar organised by the Archdiocesan Biblical Apostolate. The first was in 2015

The apostolate’s website is 

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