Father Rogelio Gonzalez offered this message to his parishioners at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in San Bernardino during a homily celebrating Pope Francis’ call to Catholics worldwide to spend more time reading the Bible. The first ever Sunday of the Word of God was January 26, the third Sunday of Ordinary Time.
“He wants to remind us that to listen to the Word of God is as important as to partake in the Eucharistic table,” said Fr. Gonzalez, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption. “The two go together.”
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. 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.
Fr. Gonzalez reinforced that message at Our Lady of the Assumption. In addition to receiving the Word of God at Mass, he also encouraged the people to read the bible before they pray as a way to open themselves to listen to God.
“We need to be quiet and listen back to God,” he said. “That’s when we open up our bible.”
Earlier in his homily, he called on parishioners to get out their bible at home and “dust it off,” an acknowledgement that many Catholics do not spend much time with the Word. Some admitted this after Mass but said they were inspired by Fr. Gonzalez’s homily.
“We don’t read the Bible much but we are going to start doing that,” said Marie Bennett, who attended the 10 a.m. Mass with her husband, Robert. “That was a real refresher.”
Parishioner Leonard Ramos agreed.
“It sends a powerful message,” he said. “It makes you want to start reading the bible more often.”
In reading the bible, parishioners should try not to view it as they would an academic text, Fr. Gonzalez offered.
“The Bible is not a book of history or a book of science,” he said. “Think of the bible as a letter from someone who loves you so much.”
During the Jan. 26 Masses at Our Lady of the Assumption the Bible was displayed prominently in front of altar, closed before the reading of the Gospel and open afterward. At the end of Mass those who serve as lectors in the parish were invited to come to the front of the church and receive a special blessing for their ministry of proclaiming God’s word.
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