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An ancient copy of the Gospels in Syriac in St. Catherine's Monastery in South Sinai An ancient copy of the Gospels in Syriac in St. Catherine's Monastery in South Sinai 

Irish bishops publish pastoral letter for ‘Sunday of the Word of God'

The Bishop of Ossory in Ireland releases a pastoral letter looking ahead to the coming “Sunday of the Word of God” in which he offers a series of reflections and suggestions that aim to help the faithful mark the observance in the best possible way.

By Linda Bordoni

“Sunday of the Word of God”, to be celebrated annually on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time was established by Pope Francis with his Apostolic Letter “Aperuit illis”. This year it takes place on 26 January. As the Pope has said, it is to be dedicated to the celebration, study and spreading of the Word of God.

Through the Scriptures the Lord continues to knock at the door of our hearts

Bishop Dermot Farrell’s pastoral letter, entitled Opening the Way to the Scriptures, which is published on the website of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, quotes from Saint Jerome, who famously said that “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” 

He said “his words resonate every bit as much today.  The risen Lord continues to speak to us through the Scriptures.  He continues to knock at the door of our hearts and minds; if we hear his voice and heed it, then he will enter our lives and remain with us.”

Farrell points out that the Bible “is not the preserve of the few. It belongs to all of us.  It is the book of the people of God.  It is a rich source for prayer, for contemplation and consolation.” 

A challenge to live a Christian life

The Scriptures – Bishop Farrell continues – “continually call and challenge us to permit the Word of God to take flesh in our lives” and live a life worthy of the call to be disciples of Jesus.

He noted that they require a response and said that we are called to “listen attentively to the Sacred Scriptures, study them assiduously, reflect on them carefully, and interpret them in the light of the same Spirit through whom they were written.”

“When our hearts and minds are open to the presence of Christ in the Scriptures, we will also find Him in our neighbour in need," he says.

The Sacred Scripture challenges us to incarnate the Word of God in daily life

Scripture is at the centre of everything the Church does, Farrell goes on to say, the Scriptures “nourish and shape our prayer and our worship.  They help us understand our world.  They shape our world view.  They teach us how to live and relate to each other.”

It is through the Scriptures, he explains, that Lord “speaks to his people, showing them the path to take in order to enable the Gospel of salvation to reach everyone.

Practical suggestions

Finally, Bishop Farrell offers some practical suggestions for celebrating the “Word of God Sunday” in the best possible way.

These include praying the Psalms and volunteering to proclaim the Word of God at Mass.

The importance of Lectio Divina

Bishop Farrell concludes highlighting the importance of the practice of Lectio Divina, which he describes as a “fruitful way of welcoming the Word of God.”  It is built, he explains, upon a person’s choosing a few lines of the Scriptures they wish to pray, and then taking the time to ponder and pray in silence.

“Remember you are not “performing” or seeking some goal.  Only strangers perform for each other.  Those who have learned to love, have learned to be with the other.  Praying God’s word has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.”

22 January 2020, 16:54