Pope Francis has set aside the third Sunday of Ordinary Time as the Sunday of the Word of God. This commemoration will happen each year, beginning today! At my local parish, our pastor asked everyone to bring their personal bible to Mass to be blessed today. Did your parish do anything special to commemorate this new feast?

Pope Francis’ homily for today contains some powerful reflections on how Jesus works in our lives and practical ways we can open ourselves to the Word of God. An excerpt is below. Here is a link to read the whole homily.

Here there is a message for us: the word of salvation does not go looking for untouched, clean and safe places. Instead, it enters the complex and obscure places in our lives. Now, as then, God wants to visit the very places we think he will never go. Yet how often we are the ones who close the door, preferring to keep our confusion, our dark side and our duplicity hidden. We keep it locked up within, approaching the Lord with some rote prayers, wary lest his truth stir our hearts. But as today’s Gospel tells us: “Jesus went about all Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity” (v. 23). He passed through all of that varied and complex region. In the same way, he is not afraid to explore the terrain of our hearts and to enter the roughest and most difficult corners of our lives. He knows that his mercy alone can heal us, his presence alone can transform us and his word alone can renew us. So let us open the winding paths of our heart to him, who walked “the road by the sea”; let us welcome into our hearts his word, which is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword … and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us make room in our lives for the word of God! Each day, let us read a verse or two of the Bible. Let us begin with the Gospel: let us keep it open on our table, carry it in our pocket, read it on our cell phones, and allow it to inspire us daily. We will discover that God is close to us, that he dispels our darkness and, with great love, leads our lives into deep waters.

Pope Francis — Excerpts from Homily for the First Sunday of the Word of God

9 thoughts on “Happy Sunday of the Word of God”

  1. The declaration that the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time will be “Sunday of the Word of God” or I would like to say “Bible Sunday” was made in September 2019. Here is the link to the Motu Propio issued by Pope Francis. http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190930_aperuit-illis.html I only learned of this at today’s mass when our pastor did a great job incorporating the sentiments of the Motu Propio into his homily. Where was the USCCB on this one. Their website has some great Bible tools; but they seem to be silent on the Motu Propio (but I could have missed it). As I write this I got an Email (Sunday night) advertising the USCCB website store to buy Bibles for this occasion. Wouldn’t it be great for a diocese to declare a “Year of the Bible!”

  2. Actually, Jim, the USCCB had this on their front page (it is still there at this writing) with a beautiful picture of their personal edition Bible for over a week, from the moment Pope Francis announced it.

    The front page image linked to the following detailed resource page:

    http://usccb.org/about/divine-worship/liturgical-calendar/sunday-of-the-word-of-god.cfm

    I visit and read this site daily and was surprised no one was commenting on this wonderful news. If anyone had missed it, it was not the USCCB. I knew about it the moment the news was released.

  3. The Catholic Biblical Federation requested of Pope Francis, in 2016, for a “Year of the Bible”:

    “…on September 30, 2020, we will celebrate the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. Jerome, illustrious connoisseur of Sacred Scripture and its first translator into Latin, the common language of that period, in order to bring the Word of God closer and make it more comprehensible to Christians.

    These two events have motivated the Executive Committee of the Catholic Biblical Federation to request Pope Francis to proclaim in our Catholic Church the Year of the Bible from the first Sunday of Advent in 2019 to the Feast of St. Jerome on 30 September, of the year 2020. This request was officially presented to the Pope in a letter signed by the President of the Catholic Biblical Federation, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, on December 3, 2016.”

    https://c-b-f.org/de/Nachrichten/Foderation/Exekutivkomitee/50-anniversary-preparatory

    The Catholic Bishops in England and Wales has declared such a year, commencing on the 1st Sunday in Advent 2019:

    https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-04/bishops-england-wales-year-of-the-word-2020.html

  4. We had the Bible enthroned, flanked by two standing candlesticks and decked with flowers. I gave homily at 3 of the 4 Masses on the new feast of Word of God Sunday, influence of St. Jerome and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture.

  5. The USCCB knew well ahead of this, even to the point of changing this in the Liturgy. For instance, it changed things in the recording of the reading for the liturgy (note how they called the Sunday “Sunday of the Word of God”):

    http://ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/2020/20_01_26.mp3

    It was known well in advance in the Church I attend and I watched how parishes across the United States put things the USCCB asked into practice by watching Mass on television in various areas and speaking with others in my parish about this.

    But if you see a failing on the part of the USCCB on this, by all means, I am sure they would like to hear about this personally from you. They are always looking for ways to improve.

  6. Post script: With all due respect, it should be noted that if parishes and Catholics around the USA knew ahead of time that the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time had newly been made Sunday of the Word of God, blaming the USCCB makes no sense if we personally knew nothing of it. Whether they had been announcing it loudly for months or just weeks or days, as this blog post and national evidence shows, it was widely observed across the United States. Watch Sunday’s Mass from Notre Dame on Catholic TV as an example. If we personally didn’t know about this, we should only limit the experience to ourselves.

  7. On another note, in March, “The Abbey Psalms and Canticles” will be published by the USCCB.
    http://store.usccb.org/abbey-psalms-p/7-644.htm

    This is the final version of the Grail Psalms that will be used at Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours with plans to be included into a liturgical bible.

    For background, see this newsletter from the Divine Worship Department of the USCCB from summer 2016, linked here:
    http://usccb.org/about/divine-worship/newsletter/upload/newsletter-2019-07-and-08.pdf

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