Third Sunday in Ordinary Time


Dear Friends,

What’s the difference between a “Catholic Bible” and a “Protestant Bible”? This is a question that I have been asked many times, and probably you have too. The Catholic edition of the Bible has 73 books while the Protestant edition has only 66 books. The New Testament books are 27 in Catholic and Protestant Bibles. But Protestant Bibles have only 39 books in the Old Testament, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel that are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church believes these books are part of the canon of Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit. These books are printed as part of the Old Testament in a Catholic Bible. In some other Bibles, these books (and sometimes additional, non-Scriptural books) are printed between the Old and New Testaments.

Today, the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, is instituted by Pope Francis as the “Sunday of the Word of God.” This is to remind us all of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the Word of God and the liturgy. Why is reading and praying the Bible so very important in our personal and family life? The words of Sacred Scripture are unlike any other texts we will ever hear, for they not only give us information, but they are the vehicle God uses to reveal himself to us, the means by which we come to know the depth of God’s love for us, and the responsibilities entailed by being Christ’s followers, members of his Body. Surveys have shown that few Catholics read the Bible on their own or as a family. At the same time, we are amazed at other Christians who are able to quote Bible verses. As St. Jerome once noted, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”

Why is proclaiming the Scriptures an essential part of the liturgy? The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel” (GIRM, no. 29). Hence, Scripture readings are an essential part of every liturgical celebration – whether it be a sacrament or a prayer service. Readings from Scripture are part of every Mass. At least two readings (3 on Sundays and solemnities), one always from the Gospels, make up the Liturgy of the Word. In addition, a psalm or canticle is sung.

These readings are typically read from a Lectionary. For convenience, the readings and psalms for each day of the year are put together in the Lectionary. The readings are divided by the day or the theme (baptism, marriage, vocations, etc.) rather than according to the books of the Bible. Not all of the Bible is included in the Lectionary.

Someone created this meaning for the word BIBLE: Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. But in fact, Bible is the nourishment for every day of our lives here on earth. What extra effort can we make to be more familiar with God’s Word?

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Abraham Orapankal