January 26, 2020 Third Week in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Reading 1 IS 8:23—9:3

Responsorial Psalm PS 27:1, 4, 13-14

  1. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Reading 2 1 COR 1:10-13, 17

Alleluia MT 4:23

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 4:12-23 OR 4:12-17


Good morning everyone!  Thanks for being here, it’s a little better weather than last weekend.   

In case you weren’t here due to the weather or other circumstances, last weekend I preached about how the words that John the Baptist used to describe Jesus were the same words that we use during Mass, and how many of the prayers and responses we say during Mass come directly from the Word of God. 

Well, back in September, Pope Francis announced that this Sunday, the third Sunday in Ordinary Time, would now be known and celebrated as Sunday of the Word of God.


This is a great idea, but when it got announced, I completely missed it, back in September, January 26th sounded like a long ways away.  But I was reminded of it this week and finally took the time to read the letter that Pope Francis sent out in the fall.

Francis picked this weekend because he said it was fitting to be at the end of the week when we have been praying for Christian Unity.  The Bible is one thing that we share with all Christians, so it is a good starting place for when we dialogue.  

In the letter, Francis reminds us that the Bible is “the living word” and because it is living, we need to have a relationship with it, and through that relationship we are to “grow in love and faithful witness.” (2)

A relationship with the living word.  We know that to have a relationship with anyone we need to stay in communication with them, right?  Similarly, it is important that we are reading scripture every day, not just on Sunday, the Word of God is how He communicates to us.

The Word of God is so deep, a lot deeper than we give it credit for.  For instance, in today’s Gospel, Matthew makes it sound like Jesus calls total strangers to immediately leave everything and follow after him.

In reality, Jesus had known all four of these guys for about six months.  When we sync up the accounts in the other Gospels onto one timeline, about six months prior to this encounter, John the Baptist said to his disciples, including these four, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

That was from our Gospel last weekend, right?  A week later, we jump six months ahead to this call to follow Jesus, but in the meantime, Jesus had went back to his hometown, Nazareth, and they ran him out of town, they tried to kill him.

At that point, the other gospels suggest that Jesus went to Capernaum and Andrew and Peter welcomed Him into their home and He lived with them for most of that time.  So they had really gotten to know Him, it wasn’t as immediate or as shocking as if Jesus had just called four complete strangers.

Jesus asks all of us to follow him, but why would we follow someone that we don’t even know?  That is where the living word of God comes into play, we have to read it, not just on Sundays, not just on this Sunday either. 

Pope Francis made it clear in the document that this is supposed to be more than just one day devoted to the Word of God.  He also said that as your Pastor, I should make sure that everyone has a bible in order to read.  If you don’t have a bible, please let me know and we can get you set up with one.

Francis says, “A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers.” (8)

The Pope wants to drive home the fact that there is an “unbreakable bond between sacred Scripture and the Eucharist.” (8) 

To that end, I believe one of the most helpful things we can do is to read the scriptures of the day, before Mass, to pray about them, to hear them read again at Mass, and then to receive communion.

That is not always possible, but I do believe it is a good practice to keep the two together.  Personally, one new thing that I am trying to do is when we start a new book of the bible at Mass, I am trying to read the whole book in order to have a better idea of where things are going.

You see, at Mass, during the course of three years, the three year scripture cycle, we read part of every single book.  However, if someone were to attend Mass every Sunday for three years, they would only hear 7% of the bible, only 7%.

Can you imagine having a friend, someone you considered a good friend, who you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, like for eternity, and you knew only 7% of their history, 7% of the big things that made up their existence?

Well, we all say we want to be with God in Heaven for eternity, why wouldn’t we get to know more than 7% of what He is about?  Even if we went to Mass every day for those three years, we would only hear 14% of the bible.

So, it is important to do the rest on our own, to really dig in and read the scriptures.  St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ.” It is so true. 

Jesus Christ is a person. A man who wants to introduce himself to you and for you to have a relationship with Him. He reaches his hand out in a handshake by means of the Word and of the Mass. 

So my challenge to you is to get to know Jesus as a person through encountering Him in the Bible. 

I don’t claim that it is easy, but I do claim that it is important. 

If you have questions about what bible to get, talk to me, Catholic versions are the NAB or the RSV.  

Also, there are some great new study bibles out there, ones that can give some very interesting insight, so even if you already have an old bible, this might be a good excuse to purchase a new Catholic Study Bible.  

If you have questions about what something means, ask me, or ask Google… Catholic.com is a great resource, and easy to remember.

To conclude, I will quote Pope Francis in the conclusion of his letter: 

“May the Sunday of the Word of God help his people to grow in religious and intimate familiarity with the sacred Scriptures. For as the sacred author taught of old: “This word is very near to you: it is in your mouth and in your heart for your observance” (Dt 30:14).”