This weekend, the Church in Australia will celebrate Word of God Sunday, which was instituted by Pope Francis in 2019 in his apostolic letter, Aperuit Illis. The letter encouraged the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.
While many countries celebrate the occasion on the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Catholic Church in Australia celebrates Word of God Sunday on the first Sunday in February each year, which this year falls on 6 February.
In his homily for this year's Word of God Sunday, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that at the heart of the life of God’s holy people and the journey of faith is God and his word.
‘Everything started with the word that God spoke to us. In Christ, his eternal Word, the Father “chose us before the foundation of the world”. By that Word, he created the universe: “he spoke, and it came to be”,’ the Holy Father said.
The Word wishes to take flesh today, in the times in which we are living, not in some ideal future. A French mystic of the last century, who chose to experience the Gospel in the peripheries, wrote that the word of God is not “a ‘dead letter’; it is spirit and life… The listening that the word of the Lord demands of us is our ‘today’: the circumstances of our daily life and the needs of our neighbour” (Madeleine Delbrêl, La joie de croire, Paris, 1968).
Let us ask, then: do we want to imitate Jesus, to become ministers of liberation and consolation for others, putting the word into action? Are we a Church that is docile to the word? A Church inclined to listen to others, engaged in reaching out to raise up our brothers and sisters from all that oppresses them, to undo the knots of fear, to liberate those most vulnerable from the prisons of poverty, from interior ennui and the sadness that stifles life? ... Let us put the word of God at the centre of the Church’s life and pastoral activity. Let us listen to that word, pray with it, and put it into practice.’
A number of resources have been developed to help individuals, families, parishes, schools and other ministries commemorate Word of God Sunday.
Among the ways that Catholics and Catholic communities are being encouraged to mark the day is a special display of Sacred Scripture or the Book of the Gospels, the establishment of Bible study groups or the adoption of lectio divina, a common practice of reflection on Scripture.