The theme of this year's Sunday of the Word of God -- the second since the pope instituted the celebration -- is "Holding fast to the Word of life," from Philippians 2:16.
In his homily, Fisichella observed that Jesus addressed his call first to simple Galilean fishermen, rather than to scriptural experts, beginning at the periphery rather than the center "in order to tell us too that no one is far from God's heart."
"Everyone can receive his word and encounter him in person," he said.
He emphasized the significance of Jesus' invitation to the disciples: "Follow me, I will make you become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17).
"If he had told them: 'Follow me, I will make you Apostles, you will be sent into the world to preach the Gospel in the power of the Spirit; you will be killed, but you will become saints,' we can be sure that Peter and Andrew would have answered: 'Thanks, but we'll stick to our nets and our boats!'"
"But Jesus spoke to them in terms of their own livelihood: 'You are fishermen, and you will become fishers of men.' Struck by those words, they come to realize that lowering their nets for fish was too little, whereas putting out into the deep in response to the word of Jesus was the secret of true joy."
The same is true of us, Fisichella said. "As he did with those fishermen, he waits for us on the shore of our life. With his word, he wants to change us, to invite us to live fuller lives and to put out into the deep together with him."
The Vatican's liturgy congregation issued a note last month encouraging Catholic parishes around the world to celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God with renewed vigor.
In the note published Dec. 19, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments suggested ways that Catholics should prepare for the day devoted to the Bible.
The congregation listed 10 guidelines for marking the day. It encouraged parishes to consider an entrance procession with the Book of the Gospels "or simply placing the Book of the Gospels on the altar."
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It advised them to follow the indicated readings "without replacing or removing them, and using only versions of the Bible approved for liturgical use," while recommending the singing of the responsorial psalm.
The congregation urged bishops, priests, and deacons to help people to understand Sacred Scripture through their homilies. It also highlighted the importance of leaving room for silence, which "by favoring meditation, allows the word of God to be received inwardly by the listener."
Before giving the final blessing, the archbishop gave copies of a special edition of the Bible, prepared for the occasion, to people representing various states of life in the Church. They included Lorenzo Pellegrini, a soccer player for A.S. Roma, and his family, and a student from Pakistan studying at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
Pellegrini captained the Rome side the day before and scored the winner as they gained a 4-3 revenge victory over Spezia, a team that met the pope earlier this week after eliminating Roma from Italy's annual cup competition.
Describing the Bible as "a love letter" written by God, Fisichella encouraged Catholics to carry Holy Scripture with them at all times, in a pocket or on a smartphone, and to keep it in "a worthy place" at home.