While it is Australia Day here in this part of the world, universally today the Church celebrates its first ever Sunday of the Word of God.
Last September, Pope Francis decreed that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God.” (Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, no. 3). It fulfils a proposal that he made at the end of the Holy Year of Mercy.
This Sunday, then, encourages us all to reflect on, and celebrate the central role of the Scriptures within our faith. It is through the Bible that we come to know God, and particularly through the Gospels, we come to know the person of Jesus. In every liturgical celebration, God speaks to us through the Scriptures that are proclaimed, and Christ is made present among us.
It’s timing, early in the Sunday of Ordinary Time, is also beneficial for us to reflect on the role the Scriptures play in our personal prayer. The Sundays will allow us to accompany Jesus through his life and ministry as documented in the Gospel of Matthew, so this Sunday is the perfect time to make a new resolution to pray with God’s word. Do we spend time reflecting on the Sunday readings during the week before or after Mass? Do we give ourselves time to read the Bible, or pray with the texts through prayer forms such as Morning and Evening Prayer or Lectio Divina (“divine reading”)?
The Carmelites publish Lectio Divina prayer resources on their website each month, and our Diocesan Institute for Mission has started publishing very accessible weekly reflections on the Sunday readings by Dr Laurie Woods. You can find links to these below: