Last week, while preparing my Sunday homily, I happened to read that just a year ago, Pope Francis declared that the third Sunday of Ordinary Time should be observed as “Sunday of the Word of God.” The Pope highlighted the importance of reading and reflecting on the Word of God, and said that doing so was itself a form of prayer. I think this is a message worth sharing every day of the year.
In his homily for that first “Sunday of the Word of God.” Pope Francis began by stating that through the gospels, “the One who is the Word of God has come to speak with us, in His own words and by His own life.” The ministry of Jesus begins with a call to repent and the message that the kingdom of God is at hand. God is near to us, He came to earth and became man out of love for us. This helps us to understand the direct demand that Jesus makes: “Repent”, in other words, “Change your life”. It is an invitation to live in a new way, it is time for living with and for God, “with and for others, with and for love.”
As the pope so beautifully said: “That is why the Lord gives you His Word, so that you can receive it like a love letter He has written to you, to help you realize that He is at your side. His Word consoles and encourages us. And the same time, it challenges us, frees us from the bondage of our selfishness and summons us to conversion.” In our daily prayers, we need to make sure that in addition to those treasured prayers that we pray “by heart”, we should also take time each day to reflect on God’s Word. As Pope Francis urges all of us: “Each day let us read a verse or two of the Bible. Let us begin with the Gospel; let us keep it open on our table, carry it in our pocket, read it on our cell phones, and allow it to inspire us daily.”
The more we read scripture, the more we discover that God is close to us. Through His word he asks us to allow him to enter our very lives. We are constantly bombarded by messages from many sources in our everyday lives. Many of those messages are unimportant and only waste our time. That is why we need his word: “so that we can hear, amid the thousands of other words in our daily lives, that one word that speaks to us not about things, but about life.”
Deacon Tom Dombai