Word of God
Your Words Are Spirit And Life
3rd Sunday Ordinary Time
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: January 23, 2022
You words are spirit and life. This Third Sunday in Ordinary time is now known within the Catholic Church as Bible Sunday, a day for us to reflect on the gift of the word of God expressed in the Scriptures. The reading of Sacred Scriptures within the community is an ancient tradition within our faith.
Our first reading today tells the story of Ezra having the Law being read before all the people gathered together. This was about 400 years before the coming of Jesus. The Book of the Law they were reading from was probably from the Pentateuch, the first five books of our Bible today. It was connected to Moses. We hear that the Levites read from the Law and then gave interpretation so that the people understood the reading.
Then we see Jesus in the Gospel come into the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town. It says that it was his custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. There he gets up and reads from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. The passage he reads to them is interpreted to be connected to his life and mission.
In our two thousand year Catholic tradition, a constant practice when we gather to worship is to have the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed. There are two parts of the Mass, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Word and Sacrament are connected. In fact, the primary place for the reading of the Scriptures is within the church gathered for worship. Like the people gathered around Ezra 2400 years ago, like the people in the synagogue at the time of Jesus, like Christians throughout church history, when we gather as the people of God, we listen to the Scriptures proclaimed in our midst.
As Catholics, the Bible as our Sacred Scriptures is to be the soul of our theology and spirituality. St. Jerome said that the ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ. We are all called to read, pray with, and study the Scriptures. How can we deepen our knowledge and prayer with the Bible? On the home page of our parish website, there is a link to biblical resources provided from the Diocese of Hamilton to assist us in studying and praying with the Bible. I encourage you to go there to use these resources.
But, throughout our faith tradition, from the time of Ezra in our first reading, to the time of Jesus in the synagogue on the sabbath, and throughout church history, the primary place of reading the Scriptures is to listen to them proclaimed in the gathering of the people of God.
As Catholics, when we gather on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist we listen to Scripture readings that are provided in a Lectionary. It provides readings for each Sunday over a three year cycle. This year we are in Year C, with a focus on the Gospel of Luke. Wherever you went to Mass this Sunday anywhere in the world, you would have heard these same readings that we just heard.
The priest does not choose readings, but takes the readings provided by the church in the Lectionary. Each Catholic who was at Mass throughout the world this Sunday heard the same readings that we just heard. Including the Pope in Rome or the smallest church in far away countries.
Our practice is to also use a Book of the Gospels. The Gospel reading is found in this Book. It is meant to highlight the central importance of the Gospels in our reading of the Bible.
If you were to ask me how to start praying with the Bible, I would recommend that you begin by using the readings from the Lectionary. Each week before Sunday, pray with the Gospel for that Sunday, and then if possible to the other readings. Take out your Bible and read around those readings if necessary to get a fuller context. If you have read, studied and prayed with the readings before you come to Mass on Sunday, the Liturgy of the Word will become more alive for you.
Your words are spirit and life. We join the ancient tradition of listening to the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed when we are gathered as the people of God. Let this word touch your mind and heart by reading, studying and praying the Bible.
The Good News
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – Word of God Sunday
Fr. Paul Patrick, O.M.I.
Posted: January 24, 2020
“After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:14-15)
In our reading for this Sunday from the Gospel according to St. Mark, the author uses an interesting term multiple times: Good News. What does this term mean and why is it used?
A few weeks ago we celebrated Christmas and most likely either heard or read the well known proclamation from the angels to the shepherds regarding the birth of Christ. “And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) In the original Greek text, the word used in both the Gospel according to Mark and the Christmas story from Luke is the same Greek word euangelion.
The word Gospel comes from the early Anglo Saxon words good spiel or literally good news or glad tidings which in turn is the Anglicized translation of the Greek euangelion. This word originally meant ‘the reward given to the one who brought good news’ as in a messenger in ancient times who brought good news to people who were waiting to hear the news of some major event in their country, such as a battle. Therein is contained a sense of joy, of relief, of happiness, to hear the wonderful news – the euangelion that the battle was over and peace would return. This phrase was later adopted by Greek speaking Christians to describe the greatest news they had ever and would ever receive, the good news that Jesus loved them and came to change their lives forever.
2.0 – Why Good Tidings of Great Joy?
Oftentimes as Christians we use ‘religious words’ which have to a certain extent lost the original weight of their meaning in the context of the 21st century. I believe that the words Gospel and Good News or Glad Tidings could sometimes fall into that category. It is important to reflect from time to time on their original meaning because it sheds a different light on the Gospels and allows me to read and meditate on the Gospel with perhaps a different perspective and viewpoint than before. The Gospels are a joyfull story of salvation which is a testament of God’s enduring love to His people.
During the course of my studies I had the privilege to study with a brilliant Scripture professor who told our class repeatedly: “The only way to truly understand the Gospels is with joy in your heart”.
3.0 – Word of God Sunday
On September 30 2019 Pope Francis declared the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time “Word of God Sunday” In a document entitled “Aperuit illis” – “He opened their minds” – the Pope highlighted the importance the Word of God should have in the life of every modern Christian.
One of the ways God reveals Himself to us – or in other words – one of the many ways we can learn more about God and His plan for my life is by reading and meditating on God’s word.
Something you might want to consider during the lockdown is to read a little scripture every day. It can be as simple as praying a short prayer to the Holy Spirit for enlightenment and then reading the Gospel for the day and reflecting how the Lord is speaking to you through the Gospel reading.
If you find it hard to get started, there is a very good program running at the moment on both Apple and Google podcasts entitled Bible in a Year by Fr. Mike Schmitz. It is presented in an approachable and easy to understand format. It is also a wonderful way to introduce a little daily Scripture into your life in a guided format which removes the mystery and anxiety which might prevent you from reading God’s Word on your own.
Have a wonderful Sunday and let us allow God to continue to speak to us through His Word 😊
The Mystery And Gift Of Christmas
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: December 25, 2019
What is God doing? What is God trying to say to us?
We speak of Jesus as the Word of God. In Jesus, God wants to speak to humanity. God wanted to reveal something to us.
What do you think God wanted to say to us in Jesus? What do you think God was trying to say to us?
This is an incredible mystery and gift. That the Creator of the Universe, the infinite Spirit, who is God, wants to speak to us human beings. Jesus is God’s Word spoken to us.
Some things we know about that Word. First, it was Good News. In this time of bad news and fake news, what a gift to have God speak to us Good News. God spoke this word not in a display of overwhelming power, but in weakness, poverty, simplicity. A helpless baby.
God was revealing the dignity of each human being. Including the poor, the weak, the outsiders, the sinners, those rejected by so-called good society.
Secondly, this Word is a Word of Mercy. God did not come to condemn us but to save us and set us free. So many of us struggle with guilt. We feel we are not worthy for God. But, in Jesus, God says something so different.
Recently I had someone come to speak to me in the church. He had been away from church for a while and felt that he had not lived a good religious life. He said to me that he was worried about coming to the church because lightning might strike him.
But, the mystery of Christmas is God coming among us, to the outsiders, the so called sinners. In fact, the powerful, the Pharisees, the Priests, the so called religious elites of the time did not recognize or embrace this Jesus. It was the poor and the ignored Shepherds who received this Word.
If you consider yourself to be an outsider, not normal, different, a sinner, then that is good, for God in Jesus is speaking directly to you. My hope at this birth of Jesus is not based on my being a priest, rather it is based precisely on my being a sinner, a human being who struggles. For the Word of God, the Word spoken to us in Jesus is precisely for us who are sinners, the outsiders.
In Jesus, our God was building a bridge to come over to visit us and speak to us. In Jesus, our God speaks a word to our hearts.
This Word of God is Good News. It is a Word of mercy. In the coming of Jesus, God builds a bridge to reach all of us. Including those considered outsiders, unimportant, different. This Word is spoken to each one of you.
The Word Of God – Fr. Mark
Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Jan 28, 2018
Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching. What would it have been like to be there in that synagogue as Jesus was teaching. To see him, to hear him. How he sounded, what he taught. That would be special to actually be in that place where Jesus is present teaching. Sometimes we think about how special it must have been for those people alive at that time to be there.
But every time we as Catholics come to celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus is present Sacramentally. In the Assembly gathered, all of you who are the body of Christ. In the priest, who is the sacramental presence of Jesus presiding. In the bread and wine that becomes the real presence of Jesus for us. And in the Word of God proclaimed in this Mass, Jesus is present to us, speaking to us. Today we are able to see and hear Jesus if we pay attention.
This Sunday our Diocese of Hamilton is having its First Annual Bible Sunday. Bishop Crosby has asked us all to reflect on the Scriptures and to encourage us to pray daily with the Bible. There is a bookmark to pick up and bring home to place in your Bible. It gives a little prayer to use before and after reading the Bible and a simple method for praying with Scripture.
Each time we listen to the Word of God at Mass, each time we read the bible at home, we are to listen as though Jesus is there teaching as he was in that synagogue in today’s Gospel. In our Psalm today we sang, “O that today you would listen to the voice of the Lord.”
A priest told me a story of a young woman who was in the RCIA preparing to become Catholic. She was so excited about what she was coming to learn about Jesus. She turned to the priest and asked him, what do you still want to learn about Jesus? He responded: “I would like to learn what was in the heart of Jesus.”
Each time we come to church and listen to the Word of God proclaimed, each time we sit down quietly and read the Gospels at home, we should listen like we are there in a room where Jesus is teaching. Spend time listening to Jesus, come to know him more deeply. St. Jerome once said that ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ. ec
This week I visited one of our shut ins who is 93 years old. She is no longer able to get to Mass. At a point she showed me a booklet she receives that has the daily Scripture readings for Mass. She told me that she is so happy to start receiving this because it really has helped her grow in her faith. I hope I am still growing in my faith when I am 93 years old!
Yes, it would have been special to be in that synagogue as Jesus came in to teach. But, we can be in the presence of Jesus teaching, each time we come to Mass and listen attentively to the Word of God proclaimed. We can be in the presence of Jesus teaching, each time we sit quietly reading the Scriptures with our hearts open listening to the voice of the Lord.