Newsletter for Sunday 26 January 2020

24 Jan

‘Sunday of the Word of God’

By decree of the Pope, this Sunday, the Third in Ordinary Time is to be observed as a day devoted especially to the Word of God.  The whole of the Mass is permeated with the Word of God from start to finish, and so we Catholics probably know more Scripture than we think.  The Jews read from the Scriptures in their synagogue, first from the Law (the first five books of the Old Testament) and then from the Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah etc) and these were interspersed with the singing of the Psalms.  So then when the first Christians began to meet on Sundays to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection they continued with this custom and added readings from the Apostles and the Evangelists which is what we do to this day.

So at Mass, during the Liturgy of the Word, having first listened to an Old Testament Reading, a Psalm, and a Reading from the New Testament Letters, the great culmination is the proclamation of the Gospel where far greater solemnity is observed.  At a Solemn Mass lighted candles are carried in procession, and the Book of the Gospels is incensed, because it is now Christ Himself speaking to us directly.  The Gospel is given signs of adoration as the Priest or Deacon first bows to it and then incenses it three times, similar to if it were the Blessed Sacrament.  This is because Christ, the Word of God is truly present when His Word is proclaimed to us in the Sacred Liturgy.  We always stand for the Gospel to acknowledge His Presence and that it is He Who is speaking to us.  At the end of the Gospel reading, the Priest or Deacon kisses the text that has been read saying in a low voice, “Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.”  This kiss is to ask pardon for all the offences we have made against the Word and it is also an act of thanksgiving.

So we give thanks to God for His Word in Sacred Scripture.  In addition to hearing the Scriptures at Mass, the Church urges all of us to read the Scriptures privately as well, to help us better know JESUS Christ.  The Scriptures really are God speaking to you! St Jerome (347-420) famously remarked, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”  Every Catholic home should have a Bible for reading and prayer.  But it is important for us to always read the Bible in context, within the Tradition of the Church and in accordance with the Truths of the Faith which God has revealed to us.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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