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Pope establishes the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time as Sunday, the Word of God

Last September, on 30 September, the feast of St Jerome, Pope Francis launched his Apostolic Letter, Aperuit illis, through which he instituted that the third Sunday of Ordinary Time would now be known as Sunday, the Word of God. Intentionally, he launched this on the feast of St Jerome, who translated the Bible from Greek into Latin, and who is known for saying that: ”Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”.

In instituting this particular Sunday as the ‘Word of God’, the Pope stressed that his hope would be for people “… to grow in religious and intimate familiarity with the sacred Scriptures”. Further he states that although it is one special day to commend to the scriptures, the faithful should make it an everyday experience. Pope Francis is inviting Catholics across the world to deepen their appreciation, love and faithful witness to God and his Word. Below are some exerts by Pope Francis from the Apostolic Letter:

“The relationship between the Risen Lord, the community of believers and sacred Scripture is essential to our identity as Christians. Without the Lord who opens our minds to them, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth. Yet the contrary is equally true: without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his Church in this world would remain incomprehensible. Hence, Saint Jerome could rightly claim: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, Prologue: PL 24,17B). (#1)

… The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity. The word of God unites believers and makes them one people. (#4)… May we never tire of devoting time and prayer to Scripture, so that it may be received “not as a human word but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess 2:13). (#5)

The role of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is primordial. Without the work of the Spirit, there would always be a risk of remaining limited to the written text alone. This would open the way to a fundamentalist reading, which needs to be avoided, lest we betray the inspired, dynamic and spiritual character of the sacred text. As the Apostle reminds us: “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). The Holy Spirit, then, makes sacred Scripture the living word of God, experienced and handed down in the faith of his holy people. (#9)… The work of the Holy Spirit has to do not only with the formation of sacred Scripture; it is also operative in those who hear the word of God. (#10).

… We should never take God’s word for granted, but instead let ourselves be nourished by it, in order to acknowledge and live fully our relationship with him and with our brothers and sisters (#12)… To listen to sacred Scripture and then to practise mercy: this is the great challenge before us in life. God’s word has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity (#13).

Saint Augustine, once wrote: “Someone in the midst of the crowd, seized with enthusiasm, cried out: ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you’ and Jesus replied, ‘Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it’(#15).

In our Parish, there are two groups: the Small Christian Community and the RCIA who read the Word of God and discuss its meaning in everyday life. If you would like to join one of these groups, please speak to Helen Freris at Sacred Heart Church or Christine, or telephone the office (9531 6120) for either to contact you.

An icon of the encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus was chosen as the official logo for the worldwide celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God. Launched by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, at a Vatican news conference on 17 January, it is based on an icon written by the late-Benedictine Sr Marie-Paul Farran.

The logo shows the Resurrected Christ holding in his left hand a scroll, which is “the sacred Scripture that found its fulfilment in his person”. Two disciples, Clopas and his wife, Mary are looking at Jesus. Mary is holding one hand upward and with her other hand seems to be touching the Lord, reaffirming that he has fulfilled the ancient promises and is the living Word that must be proclaimed to the world. Clopas holds a stick to indicate a pilgrimage with his free hand is pointing to the road ahead, which all disciples are called to take in order to bring the Good News to everyone. There is a star overhead symbolising evangelisation and the “permanent light” that guides their journey and shows them the way.

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