Until this year, I had never heard of the “Sunday of the Word of God.” I suppose I can give myself a bit of a break since it was only established a couple of years ago in 2020. But this year, I plan to be prepared for what we are celebrating.
By papal decree, Pope Francis established the third Sunday in Ordinary Time as a day set aside especially for “the celebration, study, and dissemination of the Word of God.” His hope is that, as Christians, we take up our baptismal call to profess our Faith, and specifically do so by using the gift and tool of Holy Scripture.
The Institution of the Sunday of the Word of God
I don’t think it is a coincidence that Pope Francis issued his Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis on the Memorial of Saint Jerome. This letter instituting the Sunday of the Word of God was given on the 1,600th anniversary of Jerome’s death. Jerome is a Saint known for translating the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, as well as for his quotation:
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.
Opened Minds to Understanding
Francis opened his letter by quoting Luke 24:25 when Jesus was with the disciples and “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Jesus helped them to understand the Paschal Mystery and He did so with the promise that they would be accompanied by the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.
Through relationship with God, through His word, we experience the words of love He speaks to his Bride, the Church. Sitting with Him in this way better equips us to bring His Truth out into the world.
Another goal of Pope Francis is that this Sunday will complement the Church’s desire to strengthen the bond with our Jewish brothers and sisters and move towards greater Christian unity.
He writes, “The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity.”
Through the Holy Spirit, Scripture has the power to unite us.
The Body of Christ
In Pope Paul VI's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation titled Dei Verbum, he emphasized how the Church venerates the divine Scriptures and Jesus’ Body simultaneously, “since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body.”
When we come together at the table of the Lord, we are reminded of the community we are journeying along with, that we are all part of the Body of Christ.
How to Celebrate
If you are hoping to dive deeper into putting the Word before the World this year, here are a few ideas!
In Your Prayer Time
Lectio Divina //
Just ten minutes is enough time to soak in God’s Word through lectio divina. You can start with a Scripture passage of your choosing. The four steps include:
Spend a few minutes paying attention to what stands out to you in your first reading of the passage. Read through the passage again, slower this time, meditating on what Jesus is speaking to you through Scripture. Then, spend a few minutes asking Jesus how He wants you to use what He has shown you, offer a prayer of thanksgiving, and finally, just bask in His love, perhaps journaling what Jesus shared with you.
While Driving, Cleaning, or Cooking
There isn’t a rule saying that you have to start the Bible In A Year Podcast on the first of the new year. These twenty to twenty-five minute episodes are led by Father Mike Schmitz. He provides commentary, a reflection, and prayer for each of the three hundred and sixty-five episodes.
Sprinkled Throughout Your Day
My mom was always taping up Scriptures she had written on index cards all around our house, whether it be right above the clock in our kitchen or on our bathroom mirror. Now I follow in her footsteps with my favorite words of encouragement stuck to my family’s refrigerator or our own bathroom mirror.
Placing Scripture around your home is a great way to immerse yourself in God’s Word!
Salvation and Tradition
The Bible is not meant to be a large volume of books collecting dust on our bookshelves or in the nightstand of a hotel room. The primary goal of the Bible is our salvation. The Lord has provided the Holy Spirit to help keep the truths of His Word intact, and sacred Tradition has preserved it. Pope Francis wrote:
...before becoming a written text, the word of God was handed down orally and kept alive by the faith of a people who, in the midst of many others, acknowledged it as their own history and the source of their identity.
Do you consider God’s Word to be the source of your identity?