ONE of Brisbane’s newest deacons has found his inspiration in the language of scripture multiplied and it has everything to do with where he has been placed.
Deacon Francis Fernandes, who was ordained to the transitional diaconate last November, has been ministering in Gatton Laidley parish.
“I’m kind of lucky in this parish, in Gatton Laidley, it’s an agricultural area – it’s called the salad bowl of Brisbane …,” he said.
“So much of the Bible has agrarian images and it’s amazing how much the reference to rain, water, seeds, crops, animals, fresh milk, honey, all of this stuff, which, you drive down the road and you see it growing, and you think, ‘Oh my goodness, now I can see the scale on which the Bible was saying this or that’.
“Sometimes when I’ve finished a homily, I’ll say to them, ‘I hope as you drive past these big fields, you get a sense of the scale on which God is talking’.”
Deacon Fernandes was looking forward to Word of God Sunday, on the first Sunday of February, which was a feast day instituted by Pope Francis in 2019 for “celebrating, reflecting and disseminating” the Word.
He said the Word of God was mysterious.
“We often speak about Jesus as the Word, but then there’s also this intimate connection between the Scripture and Jesus because the Church would teach that Jesus is the fulfilment of the writings and the prophets in the Old Testament,” he said.
“I think that’s a mysterious thing, like if Jesus is the fullness of God’s revelation and he’s the pivot around which the whole Bible turns, it makes sense that ‘Ignorance of Scripture becomes ignorance of Christ’.
“Ignorance of these words becomes ignorance of God’s Word.”
Deacon Fernandes said when he read the Bible, what worked for him was approaching it like a novel from start to finish.
“The Bible has been arranged in a way that traces the history of how God has worked among us, trying to save us,” he said.
But he said one style would not fit everyone; for others it might be worth picking a genre you enjoy like history, poetry, and so on.
His favourite book to read was Genesis.
“The stories are so accessible, yet they are so densely packed with theology; I’ve never read the same story twice and not found something new,” he said.
Deacon Fernandes encouraged people to read the Old Testament.
“The Old Testament and the New Testament complement each other so well and, again, we can end up with kind of biases and how can we understand God if we divorce one from the other,” he said.
He also encouraged people who were struggling to read the Bible to supplement the readings with homilies, podcasts and other explanations to help harmonise the readings.