In his Apostolic Letter of 30 September 2019, Aperuit illis Pope Francis established that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be the Sunday of the Word of God. He already proposed something similar at the end of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. It is a day to be devoted to the celebration, study, and spreading of the Word of God. Pope Francis is clear from the very first paragraph of this letter that the relationship between the Risen Lord, a community of believers, and sacred Scripture is essential to who we are as Christians.
The Sunday assembly gathering to celebrate the Eucharist is the unique moment in the week where a community gathers in a particular place and when their communal identity is nourished by Word and Sacrament. An important advance in 20th century theological reflection is that every sacramental celebration is founded and constructed upon the Word of God, and that every proclamation of the Word of God is sacramental.
While one might quibble with yet another Sunday being devoted to a particular theme that is superimposed on the liturgical celebration, this Sunday of the Word of God is certainly understood in a different way. It is not a new feast! After all, the Word of God is proclaimed at every Sunday Eucharist, and one of the great blessings of the liturgical reform and renewal flowing from the Second Vatican Council is a greater appreciation of the foundational role of the Word of God in every liturgical celebration. The reform of the lectionary has led to much more scripture being proclaimed during our liturgical gatherings and a greater awareness of the role of the Word of God in the life of faith.
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