This Sunday, Jan. 26, the Catholic Church will celebrate the inaugural Sunday of the Word of God. This day, declared by Pope Francis Sept. 30, 2019, is dedicated “to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.”
This new observance was announced by the Holy Father in an apostolic letter “Aperuit illis” which translates to “he opened to them”, referencing the Gospel passage Luke 24:45, when the Risen Lord taught the Scriptures to his disciples before his Ascension. Going forward, this new day will be celebrated annually on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Father Pablo Gadenz, a priest and a designated Scripture scholar for the Diocese of Trenton, shares with us why this Sunday has been set apart and why it is important to integrate the bible into our daily lives:
The new celebration thus invites each of us to consider what role the Bible plays in our individual lives and whether we dedicate enough time to the Bible. The underlying assumption, of course, is that reading the Bible is an important thing to do. Therefore, as we prepare to celebrate the first Sunday of the Word of God, a good starting point might be to review some possible answers to the question, “Why is it important for us as Catholics to read the Bible?” …
Reading Scripture is not merely an intellectual affair but involves a response on our part. It is not only informational but transformational. Jesus himself tells us, ‘Repent, and believe in the gospel’ (Mk 1:15). By God’s grace, habitual reading of Scripture is like a light that leads us away from the darkness of sin and along the path of holiness (Ps 119:105).
In addition to Father Gadenz’s message, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M. has shared his own reflection about the newly dedicated Sunday. Bishop points out that as Christians, “Our faith can only be strengthened if it is rooted in the Word of God.”
Like feast days we celebrate individually throughout the liturgical year, the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time – now to be the Sunday of the Word of God – is one day. Its motivation, however, is an invitation and inspiration for every day throughout the year. A prominent, visible placement of the Scriptures in our parish churches; a deliberate effort to be carefully attentive to the Readings at Mass; a thoughtful, well-prepared – and well-delivered – homily; perhaps more frequently planned parish celebrations or “Services of the Word” outside of Mass; offering parish programs for Bible Study; more emphasis on the sacred Scriptures in our Catholic schools and religious education courses; and, of course, regular personal reading of the Bible at home or combined with times for Eucharistic adoration in Church – these are some ways that the Word of God can become a more significant support for a life of faith, as Pope Francis is trying to establish.
The weekend of Jan. 25 and 26, parishes in the Diocese of Trenton are scheduled to take up the annual collection for the Church in Latin America. For more than 50 years, the collection has been a sign of solidarity between Catholics of the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean by funding pastoral programs, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries.
In November 2019, the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4.2 million in grants to support the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, including areas ravaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www. usccb.org/latin-america.