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 at each Mass truly reflects 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, March 2. We begin our year-long reading of Luke’s Gospel today. Luke gives us his account of Jesus’ first public teaching in the synagogue at Nazareth. He was invited to do one of the Torah readings and give a brief homily. He reads from the prophet Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me” (Luke 4:18). His homily is extremely brief. As everyone is watching and listening for his words, he says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). This is what Jesus came to do and teach: that the poor will know the good news, the captives will be rescued, the blind will see, and the oppressed will be freed. Jesus inaugurates the coming kingdom of God this day.
We are currently in the final days of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes on Tuesday, January 25, 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 collection for the Church in Latin America. This collection is an important way for Catholics in our country to express solidarity with our brothers and sisters in great need. We may respond to this opportunity by using the envelope that was included in the packet mailed to our homes, by marking any envelope with “Latin America” or by making an electronic contribution through our website. Any help will be 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. The Grade School choir will lead us in song and the Knights of Columbus will offer their usual pancake breakfast, followed by an Open House in the school from 11:00-12:00 (or by appointment, please call the school). 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 before the playoffs, as they did this year. Even though the days are gradually getting longer, the coldest days of the winter may still be before us. 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.
Father Jim Murphy