A word from Pope Francis ~ “To listen to sacred Scripture and then to practice 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.”
Today we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. It is also known as “The Sunday of the Word of God.” In September 2019, Pope Francis requested that “The Sunday of the Word of God” be celebrated each year on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time. This Sunday reminds all of us of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy. Pope Francis wrote, “As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes. 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. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, inflicted as we are by so many forms of blindness.”
This Sunday gives us an ideal opportunity to grow in our appreciation of the word of God proclaimed at every Mass and every other celebration of the Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours. We truly believe that whenever the word of God is proclaimed to the community gathered in prayer, that God himself is speaking to us at that moment through the person of the lector or minister. This is the reason why we stand when the Gospel is proclaimed at Mass and why the deacon carries the Book of the Gospels to the altar in the entrance procession. One of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council was the practice that our celebration of the sacraments be done with a reading of the word of God. Since this has become the normal practice for us today, we can easily forget that God is speaking to us at that very moment in his word. Those of us charged with preaching the word of God at Mass – deacons, priests and bishops – are required to begin with the word of God that we had just heard proclaimed to us rather than a topic of our own choosing. And the ambo (pulpit) is considered one of the three primary places in the church, along with the altar and the presider’s chair.
Today is an ideal day for me to thank our Lectors who serve us at each Mass by proclaiming the word of God to us and our Cantors who sing the Psalm response. Your preparation for your ministry and your care in proclaiming God’s word each Mass truly reflect our belief that God is speaking to us through your ministries. Thank you!
As we celebrate the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we continue to make our way through the initial stretch of this season between the celebrations of Christmas and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. We begin our year-long reading of Mark’s Gospel today. Mark opens the curtain on Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee. Jesus begins his ministry by announcing the arrival of God’s kingdom to those who would listen. His first proclamation is clear and direct – “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Once that announcement has been made, Jesus invites others to join him. He calls his first disciples, two sets of Jewish brothers – Simon and Andrew, and James and John. He begins among his own, and then extends the invitation to outsiders, to Gentiles. The pattern is set – he will invite all people, making no distinctions. Fortunately, that includes us!
We are currently in the final days of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes on Monday, January 25th, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Since 1968 we have joined with other Christians throughout the world in praying as the Lord prayed, “that all may be one” (John 17:21). Throughout this week we keep the cause of Christian unity before us in our community and personal prayer. It is good to remember that in spite of our differences, there is more that unites us rather than divides us.
Today we have the opportunity to join with the other parishes of our diocese in responding to the combined collection for the Church in Latin America and Africa. This collection is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in two parts of the world in great need. Envelopes were included in the packet mailed to our homes or electronic contributions made on our website are appreciated.
Next Sunday, we begin our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. To help us begin the week, the Grade School community will join with us at the 10:00am Mass and lead us in prayer. Unfortunately, the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic prevent us from having the Grade School choir lead us in song and the Knights of Columbus offer their usual pancake breakfast. The Grade School community will continue their celebration of Catholic Schools Week throughout the week and especially at their regular Wednesday School Mass at 8:15am.
Once we get past the holidays, January seems to be a very long month. It can seem even longer when the Bears end their season early in the playoffs, as they did this year. Even though the days are gradually getting longer, the coldest days of the winter are predicted for this weekend. In a little over a week we begin the shortest month of the year. Can spring be too far off? May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.