A new video series from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops is highlighting the Sunday of the Word of God in its fourth year, featuring Scripture scholars explaining various facets of Biblical research and study.
The 10 videos, five each in English and Spanish, were released just ahead of the annual commemoration, instituted by Pope Francis to coincide with the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, occurring this year on January 22.
The videos range from 11 to 40 minutes and are accompanied by discussion and reflection questions as well as resources for further study.
“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,” Pope Francis said in his 2019 motu proprio “Aperuit Illis.”
“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.”
The USCCB’s new series was produced with a grant from the American Bible Society and covers various topics ranging from Biblical authorship to ecumenical issues to interpretive methods. It is housed on a website created by the USCCB in 2017 for National Bible Week (held annually in November during the week of Thanksgiving).
The series also includes a Black Catholic in Dr. Jaime Waters, an associate professor of Old Testament at Boston College. She says the new series is an important resource not just as a connection to Scripture, but to different cultures and perspectives.
“The newly released USCCB videos feature Catholic biblical scholars from diverse backgrounds sharing insights that can enrich our understanding of Scripture,” she said.
“I enjoyed reflecting on lectio divina (sacred reading) which offers an approachable and structured way to read biblical texts. The practice is helpful for praying with Scripture individually or with a community.”
In recent months, Waters has provided online Lectio Divina sessions for the Carmelite Monastery of Baltimore, and her new video was featured this month among the USCCB’s other offerings in promotional materials for the bishops’ ongoing Eucharistic Revival.
Traditionally a monastic practice, Lectio Divina—which focuses on meditation rather than study—is one of several methods of Biblical interaction revived among the Catholic faithful following the Second Vatican Council. One of the council’s dogmatic constitutions, “Dei Verbum,” speaks of the practice at length and it has since become ecumenically popular.
In his letter instituting the Sunday of the Word of God, Pope Francis also singled out Lectio Divina as an especially important way “to read, appreciate and pray daily with sacred Scripture,” calling it one of the various ways churches can use the annual commemoration to center holy writ.
“The various communities will find their own ways to mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity. It is important, however, that in the Eucharistic celebration the sacred text be enthroned, in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s word.”
Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger and a seminarian with the Josephites.