3. Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity. This is more than a temporal coincidence: the celebration of the Sunday of the Word of God has ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity.
Pope Francis alludes to this Sunday falling within or near the Week for Christian Unity. At PrayTell, Fritz Bauerschmidt summarized the Liturgy of the Word for the three cycles of the liturgical year:
Year A, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 8:23b-9:3, They have seen a great light
Psalm 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17, No divisions
Matthew 4:12-23 or 4:12-17, Isaiah’s prophecy fulfilled
Year B, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jonah 3:1-5, 10, The Ninevites repent
Psalm 25, Teach me your ways, O Lord
1 Corinthians 7:29-31, This world is passing away
Mark 1:14-20, Repent and believe!
Year C, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10, Ezra reads the Law
Psalm 19, Your words, Lord, are spirit and life. (cf. Jn. 6:63c)
1 Corinthians 12:12-30 or 12:12-14, 27, We are one body
Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21, Jesus fulfills the Law
Is there any specific way to celebrate the Mass on this day? Not too demanding, but something can be observed, either the given suggestions or something of the parish’s own devising:
The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word.
Some parishes do this for the Book of Gospels at or near the ambo.
On this Sunday, it would be particularly appropriate to highlight the proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honor that it is due.
Each year, the reading offers a biblical inspiration for preaching.
Bishops could celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors or a similar commissioning of readers, in order to bring out the importance of the proclamation of God’s word in the liturgy.
Even better would be installing women as well as men as lectors.
In this regard, renewed efforts should be made to provide members of the faithful with the training needed to be genuine proclaimers of the word, as is already the practice in the case of acolytes or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
Some parishes do offer formation as lectors. But many communities rely on the diocese. Sometimes bishops and staff lack the will or expertise to offer this.
Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture, especially through the practice of lectio divina.
This last recommendation will need a lot more to develop it than just this fiat. Most Christians have Bibles, and online access is considerable. What is needed it guidance for reading and praying, and ways to develop the practice in the young.
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