Vatican Corner 01-19-2020

Pope Francis’ Apostolic letter of Sept. 30, 2019 established that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the “Word of God.” This will be the first time the “Sunday of the Word” will be celebrated and it will be on January 26th. Pope Francis says it is an invitation to Catholics around the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his word. Dioceses and parishes have been invited to respond with creative ideas, and helpful resources for helping Catholics to engage more deeply with the Bible at church and in their lives. Pope Francis has suggested that for the celebration the Bible could be enthroned “in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value (special meaning) of God’s Word.” Pastors are invited to preach on the importance of the Word and to encourage the faithful to read the Bible as a regular part of their daily lives. Liturgists and pastoral musicians are encouraged to plan music that will support this emphasis. The president of the Pope’s Council for Promoting New Evangelization – Archbishop Rino Fisichella says “the overwhelming majority” of Catholics are not familiar with sacred Scripture and for many the only time they hear the word of God is when they ascend Mass. He said the Bible is the most widely distributed book, but it’s also perhaps the one most covered in dust because it is not held in our hands.” In his letter, the Pope wrote “we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut. The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division toward unity” as well as come to understand God’s love and become inspired to share it with others. The third Sunday in Ordinary Time falls during that part of the year when the Church is encouraged to strengthen its bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. The Pope said it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth without the Lord who opens people’s minds to his word, yet “without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his church in this world would remain incomprehensible.”