Vatican City (CNA)—Pope Francis has declared the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time to be the Sunday of the Word of God in order to promote a closer relationship with holy scripture and its dissemination in the world.
“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,” the pope wrote in an apostolic letter Sept. 30.
“For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness.”
He said “the Bible is not a collection of history books or a chronicle, but is aimed entirely at the integral salvation of the person.”
Pope Francis instituted the special day for celebrating the Word of God in the Church with the promulgation motu proprio of the apostolic letter Aperuit Illis, published Sept. 30, 2019, the 1,600th anniversary of St. Jerome’s death and his feast day.
The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, on the Roman calendar, typically falls around the end of January.
In Aperuit Illis, Pope Francis said Catholics should keep in mind God’s teaching in the Book of Revelation: that the Lord is standing at the door and knocking. “Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us,” he said.
“The Bible,” he noted, “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 Bible is the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity. The word of God unites believers and makes them one people,” he stated.