Sunday of the Word of God

On the feast of St Jerome Pope Francis issued a ‘Motu Proprio” instituting the Sunday of the Word of God. It will be marked each year on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The Holy Father had proposed the idea at the conclusion of the Year of Mercy when he wrote: a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people.

The document provides a summary of the Church’s teaching on Scripture and the place of Scripture within the Liturgy. It suggests a number of ways that the day might be marked:

  • in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word.
  • it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honour that it is due
  • Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers, in order to bring out the importance of the proclamation of God’s word in the liturgy
  • renewed efforts should be made to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word.
  • Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture, especially through the practice of lectio divina. 

The timing of the day will mean that it will often coincide with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and is at the same time as commemorations for Holocaust Memorial Day. Pope Francis notes this:

This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity. [3]

He also addresses the concern that individual days of prayer can seem to highlight something which should be part of the normal life of the Church.

A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. [8]

The text of the document together with other resources on Scripture and Liturgy are available.

The God who Speaks

The Pope’s Motu Proprio happily coincides with the Bishops of England and Wales announcing a Year of the Word — The God who Speaks to be celebrated from the First Sunday of Advent 2019.

3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Sunday between 21 January – 27 January

Lectionary Readings for 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Year A

Reading 1Isa 8:23b–9:3In Galilee of the nations the people have seen a great light.
PsalmPs 26:1. 4. 13-14 r. 1The Lord is my light and my help.
Reading 21 Cor 1:10-13, 17Make up the differences between you instead of disagreeing among yourselves.
Gospel AcclamationMatt 4:23Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom, and cured all kinds of sickness among the people.
Matt 4:12-23He went and settled in Capernaum: in this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled.
GospelMatt 4:12-17He went and settled in Capernaum: in this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled.

Year B

Reading 1Jon 3:1-5, 10The people of Nineveh renounce their evil behaviour.
PsalmPs 24:4-9 r. 4Lord, make me know your ways.
Reading 21 Cor 7:29-31The world as we know it is passing away.
Gospel AcclamationMark 1:15The kingdom of God is close at hand; believe the Good News.
GospelMark 1:14-20Repent and believe the Good News.

Year C

Reading 1Neh 8:2-6, 8-10Ezra read from the law of God and the people understood what was read.
PsalmPs 18:8-10, 15 r. John 6:63Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life.
Reading 21 Cor 12:12-30You together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.
shorter1 Cor 12:12-14, 27You together are Christ’s body; but each of you is a different part of it.
Gospel AcclamationLuke 4:18The Lord has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives.
GospelLuke 1:1-4; 4:14-21This text is being fulfilled today.

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