On the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time of every year since 2019, the Church observes Sunday of the Word of God and this year, it falls on the first day of the Chinese Lunar Year. Pope Francis reminds us to understand, grow in knowledge and love the scriptures (Aperuit Illis - AL, Apostolic Letter, no. 1 and 8, 2019) so that we “can speak from the heart and thus reach out to the hearts of those who hear us, conveying what is essential and capable of bearing fruits,” (AL, no. 5).
The Holy Father also reminds us “to stimulate all Christians, not just place the Bible on a shelf as one of many books, perhaps filled with dust – but as an instrument that awakes our faith, (AL, no. 4). The Bible is not privileged to a selected number of people but, we are all encouraged to read the Word of God regularly and prayerfully – chapter to chapter, book to book – attentively.
Just as the Samaritan woman came seeking to draw from the well, Jesus offers us living water – a spring of water welling up to eternal life (cf. John 4: 1-42). Jesus will never turn us away dry or dissatisfy us, because He is the Source of Living Water that quenches our thirst and our desires. This “water of the Word” is life-sustaining and has the refreshing ability to sanctify us. We are to search, long and thirst for Jesus through His Living Word, and He will satisfy our souls and spirits.
Bishop Richard Ng, President of the Regional Biblical Commission, encourages us “to prepare the readings before Mass, for a worthy and fruitful participation in the Eucharistic celebration.” He calls us to cultivate a culture of listening and dialogue with each other. The Word of God will help us to discern what the Holy Spirit speaks to us and eventually lead us to the synodal church, especially when we gather for the Eucharistic celebration and live the Eucharist outside Mass – and carry out His mission to the world.
We need to give importance to reading the Word of God daily and have a deeper appreciation and love for it. When we truthfully and reverently read the Word of God on a regular basis, it opens, transforms our hearts and changes our outlook. It will become a source of strength in our lives and will constantly renew our commitment to become more effective in our Christian living and evangelisation.
How do we spend time reading and reflecting on the Word of God so that it makes a difference in our daily lives? Are we really empowered and revitalised by reading, studying and contemplating the Word of God? When we are spiritually dry, do we encounter the living person in the Word of God, who quenches our spiritual thirst through His Living Word? Jesus, the perfector of our faith (Heb 12:2) brings nourishment, healing, wholeness and holiness through His Word.
On this first day of the Chinese New Year and for the rest of the year, let us give more prominence to the Word of God by cultivating the habit of reading, reflecting and meditating on it - to lead us towards greater spiritual growth.
MAY THE YEAR OF THE RABBIT BRING JOY, PROSPERITY, GOOD HEALTH AND ABUNDANT BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. GONG XI FA CAI!