Pope Francis Monday declared the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time to be the Sunday of the Word of God in order to promote a closer relationship with holy scripture and its dissemination in the world.

“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,” the pope wrote in an apostolic letter Sept. 30.

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.

The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, on the Roman calendar, typically falls around the end of January.

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.

Each community can decide how to mark the Sunday of the Word of God, but it is important, he said, that sacred scripture be “enthroned.”

He said one example of how to do this would be to highlight the “proclamation of the word of the Lord and to emphasize in the homily the honor that it is due.”

Other examples he gave were for pastors to give out Bibles or a book of the Bible to encourage daily prayer with sacred scripture, such as lectio divina, or for bishops to celebrate the Rite of Installation of Lectors that day. He added that this is a good opportunity for parishes to renew their efforts to train lectors to be “genuine proclaimers of the word.”

Francis spoke about the role of pastors, who, he said, have the responsibility of explaining sacred scripture and helping their parishioners understand it, especially through the homily, which possesses, as it says in Evangelii Gaudium, “a quasi-sacramental character.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.