Background: Sunday of the Word of God
January 21, 2023
On Sunday, January 22—the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time—the Church commemorates the Sunday of the Word of God. Pope Francis instituted the commemoration in his 2019 motu proprio Aperuit illis.
“I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God,” Pope Francis wrote. “This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity.”
“The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity,” he continued. “It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word. On this Sunday, it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honor that it is due.”
Pope Francis added:
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, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.
Subsequently, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, then led by Cardinal Robert Sarah, issued a Note on the Sunday of the Word of God. “The purpose of this Note is to help reawaken, in the light of the Sunday of the Word of God, an awareness of the importance of Sacred Scripture for our lives as believers, beginning with its resonance in the liturgy which places us in living and permanent dialogue with God,” the Congregation stated.
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