Pope: a Sunday for celebration, reflection and dissemination of the Bible
Francis established the "Sunday of the Word of God". It will be celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, "at that time of the year, when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. ". "The day dedicated 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".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time will be the "Sunday of the Word of God", "solemnly dedicated" to the "celebration, reflection and dissemination" of the Bible that "is not a collection of history books or a chronicle, but is aimed entirely at the integral salvation of the person ”. The Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio "Aperuit illis", published today, establishes this.
"The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. 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”. Always bearing in mind that "the evident historical setting of the books of the Bible should not make us overlook their primary goal, which is our salvation. ".
It follows that the Bible is not the patrimony of some, but "book of the Lord's people" and that, therefore, "pastors are primarily responsible for explaining sacred Scripture and helping everyone to understand it. Since it is the people’s book, those called to be ministers of the word must feel an urgent need to make it accessible to their community".
Francis then returns to address one of the themes that is dear to him, that of the homily. It " has a distinctive function, for it possesses “a quasi-sacramental character” (Evangelii Gaudium, 142). Helping people to enter more deeply into the word of God through simple and suitable language will allow priests themselves to discover the “beauty of the images used by the Lord to encourage the practice of the good” (ibid.). This is a pastoral opportunity that should not be wasted! For many of our faithful, in fact, this is the only opportunity they have to grasp the beauty of God’s word and to see it applied to their daily lives. Consequently, sufficient time must be devoted to the preparation of the homily. A commentary on the sacred readings cannot be improvised. Those of us who are preachers should not give long, pedantic homilies or wander off into unrelated topics. When we take time to pray and meditate on the sacred text, we can speak from the heart and thus reach the hearts of those who hear us, conveying what is essential and capable of bearing fruit. It is therefore necessary to dedicate the appropriate time for the preparation of the homily "and that we do not dwell" beyond measure with pedantic homilies or extraneous topics ".
Recalling then the episode of Emmaus, Francis emphasizes that in explaining to the disciples how much the Scriptures say about him, "Christ is the first exegete! Not only did the Old Testament foretell what he would accomplish, but he himself wished to be faithful to its words, in order to make manifest the one history of salvation whose fulfilment is found in Christ". " Not simply a part, but the whole of Scripture speaks of Christ. Apart from the Scriptures, his death and resurrection cannot be rightly understood."
"The journey that the Risen Lord makes with the disciples of Emmaus ended with a meal". " his scene clearly demonstrates the unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has venerated the Lord’s body, in that she never ceases, above all in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the word of God and the body of Christ” "(Dei Verbum, 21). Regular reading of sacred Scripture and the celebration of the Eucharist make it possible for us to see ourselves as part of one another. As Christians, we are a single people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. 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".
The document then underlines the unity between Sacred Scripture and Tradition "which is also the Word of God". " We frequently risk separating sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition, without understanding that together they are the one source of Revelation. The written character of the former takes nothing away from its being fully a living word; in the same way, the Church’s living Tradition, which continually hands that word down over the centuries from one generation to the next, possesses that sacred book as the “supreme rule of her faith” (ibid., 21). Moreover, before becoming a written text, sacred Scripture was handed down orally and kept alive by the faith of a people who, in the midst of many others, acknowledged it as their own history and the source of their identity. Biblical faith, then, is based on the living word, not on a book”.
Francis also explains the choice of the day of the celebration. "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. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity.” (FP)