The Sunday of the Word of God
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 was 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 the presence of God who speaks to us and nourishes us.
The reading for this weekend is about the importance and power of the Word of God. In the first reading from the book Nehemiah, Ezra reads the Book of the law of God. the great covenant renewal after the exile on the Feast of the Tabernacles after completion of the walls. King Cyrus of Persia liberated Israelites, who were in Babylonian exile for seventy years. They rebuilt the ruined Temple (Ezra 6:15-17), finished rebuilding the walls under Ezra, their spiritual leader and Nehemiah, their Governor. Ezra came to the Water Gate and proclaimed the Word of God and led the people in the covenant renewal. Then gave instruction to the people.
In the Gospel, Jesus proclaimed God's Word in the Synagogue. The passage Jesus received to read was from the Book Isaiah 61:1-2. This passage was widely discussed among the Jews because it was the prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah. They were expecting a powerful leader to liberate them from Romans. Christ instead offers them liberation from sin and death. He read, Good News to the poor; to prisoners, freedom; to the sorrowful heart, joy. After reading this passage, Christ, the anointed one of God, said, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” This sermon inaugurates the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection are the fulfillment of the scripture. We see in Gospel of Luke chapter 25, Jesus walks with the two disciples after his resurrection and explains the scripture. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures” (25:27).
Through our Baptism we are called to continue Jesus ministry: bringing the Good News; freedom; joy to the people around us. May the Lord nourish us through his Word and the Body and Blood of Christ and send us out to proclaim the Good News.
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