On September 30, 2019, on the Feast of St. Jerome, Pope Francis declared the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time as Sunday of the Word of God. On this day he published an Apostolic Letter, Motu Proprio "Aperuit illis" which also marks the 1600 death anniversary of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. St, Jerome said: "Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ." The Sunday of the Word of God is dedicated to the celebration, study, and dissemination of the Word of God.
The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum solemnly promulgated by Pope Paul VI on November 18, 1965. Pope Francis quote Dei Verbum, 21 in his Apostolic Letter, “Aperuit illis,” “the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ.”
Pope Francis says in his Apostolic Letter that regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist makes us realize that we are a single people who make a pilgrimage through history, in presence of God who speaks to us and nourishes us.
This weekends reading tells us about the importance of listening to the Word of God. In the first reading from the book of Jonah chapter 3, we see Jonah who announces God’s message. The first two chapters of Jonah describes how God responded to Jonah’s flight from His call and the mission He had assigned the prophet, exposing him to a deadly storm and an agonizing experience in the belly of a whale. At God’s second call to preach repentance in Nineveh, Jonah obeyed. Jonah had not even finished the first day of his preaching journey before the people had totally turned around – doing visible penance while asking and hoping for God’s love, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Contrary to Jonah’s expectations, the pagan peoples of the city "believed in God" and "renounced their evil behavior."
In the Gospel of John, in the first chapter, we read, the Word was God and everything came to be through Him, and in the fullness of time, Word became flesh. This weekends Gospel is from the Gospel of Mark, where we see Jesus, the Word made flesh, inviting people to repent and embrace the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of God closely connected the ancient kingdom of Israel. Even though David’s kingdom is collapsed, but it foreshadowed the glory of Christ's reign. Where Jesus is there is the kingdom of God.
Today, we have thousands and thousands of missionaries proclaim the Word of God around the world. We see in today’s Gospel reading the initial step. Jesus invited Simon, Andrew, James, and John to join him, so they can be prepared to continue his mission, preaching the Word of God. They couldn’t resist Jesus’ compelling invitation to follow as disciples. They left everything and followed Jesus. They listened to the Word of God, witnessed the miracles and grew in faith.
We all know the reception of the Holy Spirit made the disciples able to proclaim the Word of God. Pope Francis in his apostolic letter says, “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.”
The Pope says that Dei Verbum makes clear that “the words of God, expressed in human language, are in every way like human speech, just as the Word of the eternal Father, in taking upon himself the weak flesh of human beings, also took on their likeness” (No. 13).
Our God is one who comes to us and is with us through the Word and Sacraments and continues to guide us with the Holy Spirit. Today and every day let us find time to spend time with the Word of God.