SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD

In his Apostolic Letter of September 2019, Aperuit illis, Pope Francis established that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be the Sunday of the Word of God. Sunday of the Word of God is a day to be devoted to the celebration, study, and spreading of the Word of God. Pope Francis is clear from the very first paragraph of this letter that the relationship between the Risen Lord, a community of believers, and sacred Scripture is essential to who we are as Christians. The Sunday assembly gathering to celebrate the Eucharist is the unique moment in the week where a community gathers in a particular place and when their communal identity is nourished by Word and Sacrament. Sunday of the Word of God is not a new feast! After all, the Word of God is proclaimed at every Sunday Mass, and one of the great blessings of the liturgical reform and renewal flowing from the Second Vatican Council is a greater appreciation of the foundational role of the Word of God in every liturgical celebration. The reform of the lectionary has led to much more scripture being proclaimed during our liturgical gatherings and a greater awareness of the role of the Word of God in the life of faith, mindful that the Word of God is not a book, but a person, Jesus Christ, who was made flesh and dwelt among us. This Sunday is a time when the community is called to give greater attention not just to the Word of God. It is also urged to reflect on how we honour that Word in our celebrations, the books that we proclaim the Word from. Is the Gospel book carried in procession? Is it a well-made book that shows forth its life-giving content? Is it honoured with incense, and do we sing during the Gospel procession? When the scriptures are proclaimed at Mass, it is Christ who speaks. Are the readers who proclaim the Word formed in the art of proclamation, and the knowledge of what they are announcing? Pope Francis suggests in his letter that this Sunday is an ideal time to reflect on these issues.