Universalis
Sunday 24 January 2021    (other days)
Third Sunday after Epiphany 

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord; hail the God who saves us, alleluia.

Year: B(I). Psalm week: 3. Liturgical Colour: Green.

Sunday of the Word of God

‘…At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I proposed setting aside “a Sunday given over entirely to the word of God, so as to appreciate the inexhaustible riches contained in that constant dialogue between the Lord and his people”. Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world…
  ‘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.
  ‘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. 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 honour that it is due. 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. 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. 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.’
The Apostolic Letter "Aperuit Illis" of Pope Francis

In other years: St Francis de Sales (1567 - 1622)

He was born near Annecy, in Savoy, studied the law, and was ordained to the priesthood despite the opposition of his father. His first mission was to re-evangelize the people of his home district (the Chablais), who had gone over to Calvinism. Always in danger of his life from hostile Calvinists, he preached with such effectiveness that after four years most of the people had returned to the Church. He was then appointed bishop of Geneva, and spent the rest of his life reforming and reorganising the diocese, and in caring for the souls of his people by preaching and spiritual guidance.
  St Francis taught that we can all attain a devout and spiritual life, whatever our position in society: holiness is not reserved for monks and hermits alone. He wrote that “religious devotion does not destroy: it perfects,” and his spiritual counsel is dedicated to making people more holy by making them more themselves. In his preaching against Calvinism he was driven by love rather than a desire to win: so much so, that it was a Calvinist minister who said “if we honoured anyone as a saint, I know of no-one since the days of the Apostles more worthy of it than this man.”
  St Francis is the patron saint of writers and journalists, who would do well to imitate his love and his moderation: as he said, “whoever wants to preach effectively must preach with love.”

Today's Office of Readings: The comedy of Jonah

The lectionarist is a sober and dedicated person and, hard though his job is, he does not usually complain. He gets near to it, though, in §146 of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours, when he alludes to being able to put into the Office of Readings “the long and difficult passages which scarcely have a place in the Mass”. You can hear him gratefully stretching his wings after spending too long in a confined space.
  The business of trimming pieces of Scripture to be small enough to fit, and easy enough to understand at a single hearing, is regrettable but inevitable. There is a particularly poignant example today. The very human comedy of Jonah is shorn of all its humanity and all its comedy. The First Reading presents Jonah as he ought to have been, as we ought to be. This is uplifting; but it is also exactly the opposite of what really happens in the Book of Jonah, which shows us Jonah as he really was – as we usually are too.
  Here is a quick summary to make up for what you are missing:
  Act One: God calls Jonah to get up at once and go to Nineveh and preach to its inhabitants. Jonah gets up at once, and goes as fast as he can in the opposite direction. God commits some entertaining miracles (not without their resonance in later salvation history) and puts Jonah back where he started.
  Act Two: God calls Jonah to get up and go to Nineveh and its inhabitants and tell them that if they do not repent in sackcloth and ashes then they will all be destroyed. He does, and they do, so they aren’t. This story is high-minded enough to find its way into today’s Mass.
  Act Three: Jonah is furious. Where is the pleasure in being a prophet of doom and destruction if the doom and destruction you prophesy doesn’t happen? He complains to God, and God commits a rather arbitrary miracle with a castor-oil plant to show him how wrong he is.
  Of all the Old Testament prophets, Jonah is the one who is most like us. God shows a sense of humour in dealing with him; may he show it also in his dealings with us.

Liturgical colour: green

The theological virtue of hope is symbolized by the colour green, just as the burning fire of love is symbolized by red. Green is the colour of growing things, and hope, like them, is always new and always fresh. Liturgically, green is the colour of Ordinary Time, the orderly sequence of weeks through the year, a season in which we are being neither single-mindedly penitent (in purple) nor overwhelmingly joyful (in white).

Mid-morning reading (Terce)Romans 8:15-16 ©
The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.

Noon reading (Sext)Romans 8:22-23 ©
From the beginning until now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth; and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.

Afternoon reading (None)2 Timothy 1:9 ©
God has saved us and called us to be holy, not because of anything we ourselves have done but for his own purpose and by his own grace. This grace had already been granted to us, in Christ Jesus, before the beginning of time.
Scripture readings taken from The Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
 
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