Speaking on the first Sunday of Lent at St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis urged all Christians to carry and read the Bible with the same dedication and frequency as they do their mobile phones.
"What would happen if we treated the Bible like we do our mobile phones?" the pontiff asked the crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square on Sunday, according to Reuters. "If we turned around to retrieve it when we forgot it? If we carried it with us always, even a small pocket version? If we read God's messages in the Bible like we read messages on the mobile phone?"
The comparison between the Bible and the mobile phone might be paradoxical, but it should cause Christians to reflect, he added, according to Vatican Radio.
"If we always carried God's Word in our hearts, no temptation would distance us from the Father, and no obstacle would take us off the path towards good," he said.
Christians can carry a pocket-sized Gospel all the time, the pope suggested. "Don't forget what would happen if we treated the Bible as we treat our cellphone, always with us, always close to us!"
The 80-year-old pope talked about Jesus' 40 days in the desert where he was temped by the devil, as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. He said Jesus used God's Word to defeat the devil's attempts.
"The devil's poisonous darts are all 'blocked' by Jesus with the shield provided by God's Word," he was quoted as saying. All Christians should follow in Jesus' footsteps during the 40 days of Lent and to confront the spiritual battle against evil with the strength of God's Word, he said.
"That's why it is necessary to become familiar with the Bible: read it often, reflect upon it, assimilate it. The Bible contains the Word of God which is always topical and effective," he said.
Francis is generally not against the use of technology or social media.
Last year, he said the Internet, social media and text messages are "a gift of God," which should be used with wisdom. "It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal," he said.
However, in 2015, the pope said, "Today the modern media, which are an essential part of life for young people in particular, can be both a help and a hindrance to communication in and between families." Quoting his predecessor Benedict XVI, he added, "The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that 'silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist.'"
Last month, the pontiff spoke to students at a university in Rome, saying, "When there's no dialogue at home, when we're at the table and instead of talking everyone is on their phone … it's the start of war, because there is no dialogue."