The Word of God

This Sunday has been designated by Pope Francis as “Sunday of the Word of God.” It is an opportunity for us to highlight how essential Scripture is in all our lives. Pope Francis wrote.

“It is fitting, then that the life of our people be constantly marked by this decisive relationship with the living word that the Lord never tires of speaking to his Bride, that she may grow in love and faithful witness. Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian Unity. Devoting a specific Sunday of the liturgical year to the word of God can enable the Church to experience anew how the risen Lord opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.”

Sixty years ago I was given a copy of the New Testament newly translated by Monsignor Ronald Knox from the Vulgate Latin. This was the first translation instigated by the bishops into English since Rheims version appeared in 1582. Inscribed on the fly leaf of my New Testament were “St Bede’s Sanctuary Guild Awarded to Anthony Charlton for the best attendance during the year.” Since the Knox Translation then there have been many translation into English of the Old and New Testament from the Greek and the Hebrew. In 1966 the Jerusalem Bible was published which was based on the work published in French “La Bible de Jerusalem”. This is the translation that we hear at Mass today as laid out in the three volumes of the lectionary. This was the translation is used throughout my studies for the priesthood. The bishops of England and Wales have recently agreed to produce a revised Lectionary using the text of the English Standard Version published by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. This edition is seen as fulfilling the qualities the churches seeks when considering a translation of scripture namely: the evaluation and use of source material, the accuracy of translation which conveys the meaning of the biblical authors and the dignity and accessibility of language needed for worthy proclamation of the word of God. This will be published sometime in 2022.

What is essential for us is that the Word of God is an essential part of our life as Catholics. We need a translation that encourages us to read, pray and understand the Word. We need to hear God speaking to us everyday through this living word. There are countless ways we can do this. This year I am using Ascension Press “Bible in a Year” Podcast hosted by Fr Mike Schmitz and featuring Jeff Cavins which guides me through the whole Bible in 365 days. Each 20-25 minute episode includes: two to three scripture readings, a reflection from Fr. Mike Schmitz, and guided prayer to help you hear God’s voice in his Word. Here is the link.  There are great suggestions on the website The God who speaks;

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest