24 Jan THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
This Sunday will be somewhat different from the norm. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, published a letter on September 30 2019 titled “Aperuit illis” In that letter he stated that the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time would be “devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.” The date of publication was very important as it was the Feast of St. Jerome who was the first to translate the Bible. St. Jerome is famously quoted as saying “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” Jerome died 1600 years ago and still those words hold great importance for our lives.
There is great ecumenical value that this Sunday holds as it falls (this year) at the close of the annual week of “Prayer for Christian Unity.” Much has happened since the close of the Second Vatican Council. During my days in the seminary there was a frequently spoken thought that “the Catholics have the Sacraments and the Protestants have the Bible.” In the Council Document on Revelation there is the statement that we have always given the same veneration to the Bible as to the Blessed Sacrament. I have to admit that I burst out laughing. We have always genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament. Most homes, if they did have a Bible, used them to press flowers from a funeral and children were told not to get their finger prints on it. Thank God most of that has improved. At least I hope that every home now has a Bible and ideally every member of the family has one. I actually hope that in those personal copies there will be a lot of notes and some sign that it is regularly used. Remember “Footnotes are the footprints of a brilliant mind!”
To inaugurate this particular celebration, the Holy Father will solemnly enthrone the Lectionary that was used in all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council. We will do something similar by solemnly enthroning the Bible that always is in front of the Ambo, open to the “Gospel of the Day.” How many have even noticed the Bible there? If not, that is the goal of our Holy Father and indeed, the entire Body of Christ. Here is an opportunity to renew our commitment and understanding of “the inexhaustible richness that comes from God’s constant dialogue with his people.”
In a way I have violated the whole purpose of this Sunday by not spending much time on the Gospel itself. In a few short words, we see Jesus calling the first of His Apostles. Two sets of brothers Peter and Andrew, James and John immediately responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him and to become “Fishers of Men.” Immediately He involved them in His ministry. Jesus invites us to do the same, especially when He invites us to know Him in a personal way through the Scriptures. As we begin to know Him better we will naturally want to share Him with others.
May God bless, preserve and keep us all in the Palm of His Hand!