To help the Church grow in love and faithful witness to God, Pope Francis has declared the third Sunday in Ordinary Time to be dedicated to the word of God.
Salvation, faith, unity and mercy all depend on knowing Christ and sacred Scripture, he said in a new document.
Devoting a special day “to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God” will help the Church “experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world,” the pope said.
The declaration to have a “Sunday of the Word of God” was made in a new document, given motuproprio, on the pope’s own initiative. Its title, AperuitIllis, is based on a verse from the Gospel of St. Luke, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”
“The relationship between the risen Lord, the community of believers and sacred Scripture is essential to our identity as Christians,” the pope said in the apostolic letter, released by the Vatican Sept. 30, the feast of St. Jerome, patron saint of biblical scholars.
“The Bible cannot be just the heritage of some, much less a collection of books for the benefit of a privileged few. It belongs above all to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words,” the pope wrote.
“The Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division toward unity” as well as come to understand God’s love and become inspired to share it with others, he added.
Without the Lord who opens people’s minds to his word, it is impossible to understand the Scriptures in depth, yet “without the Scriptures, the events of the mission of Jesus and of his church in this world would remain incomprehensible,” he wrote.
Archbishop RinoFisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, told Vatican News Sept. 30 that added emphasis on the importance of the word of God is needed because “the overwhelming majority” of Catholics are not familiar with sacred Scripture. For many, the only time they hear the word of God is when they attend Mass, he added.
“The Bible is the most widely distributed book, but it also perhaps the one most covered in dust because it is not held in our hands,” the archbishop said.