Bishop Lee to meet lectors at Word of God celebration

Marco Carvalho 

“To ignore the Word of God is to ignore Christ,” Father Eduardo Aguero declared, using the words of St Jerome. The Argentinian priest, who tends to the Portuguese-speaking flock that attends Sunday Mass at the parish of Our Lady of Carmel, created a Bible study group and provides the lectors in Taipa with workshops on the Holy Scriptures every month. This year, the Sunday of the Word of God will be celebrated on the 23rd of January. D. Stephen Lee Bun-sang will meet with local lectors at the Bishop’s Palace. 

The Diocese of Macau will promote on January 23rd a gathering that will bring together the lectors who read the Holy Scriptures at Sunday Mass and other Church services. Organized by the Diocesan Liturgy Commission, the meeting will be chaired by Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-sang and aims to acknowledge the role that lectors play, not only in the celebration of the liturgy, but mainly in the proclamation of the Word of God. 

Bishop Lee will read and explore the Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, with the aim of helping lectors to deepen their appreciation and love to God and his Word.  The document, issued Motu proprio by Pope Francis on September 30th 2019, established the annual observance, on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time, of the Sunday of the Word of God, as an opportunity to celebrate, study and disseminate the Holy Scriptures.

When the Apostolic Letter was introduced, in September 2019, the Supreme Pontiff urged Catholic communities around the world to celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God with due solemnity, in order to uphold the normative value that the Sacred Scriptures possess. Pope Francis granted the Dioceses worldwide the possibility to celebrate the Rite of the Institution of Lectors, as a way of drawing attention to the proclamation of the Word of God in the Liturgy.

In Macau, Aperuit Illis opened the door to a renewed interest in the Bible, with many people willing to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the Bible, father Eduardo Aguero told O CLARIM.  The Argentinian priest, who tends to the Portuguese-speaking flock that attends Sunday Mass at the parish of Our Lady of Carmel says that such an interest is visible not only in numerical terms, but also in qualitative terms. The Portuguese-speaking pastoral in Taipa instituted a dozen new lectors last November, signalling a new approach to the way the Word of God is understood: “We institute the readers because they constitute a Ministry within the Church. In our parish, in the Portuguese-speaking community, we prepare our readers, we offer them continuous formation,” Father Aguero explained. “This process is, nevertheless, incomplete. Every month we have a workshop on the Sacred Scriptures. There are two different aspects to this approach: there is the aspect of the liturgy and the aspect of the Word. We promote the study of the Word of God and the study of the liturgy at the same time. The Word has to be proclaimed and the person who proclaims it, incarnates the Word. This is why it is important to prepare people to proclaim the Word of God,” the missionary of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus added.

The Word of God, Father Eduardo Aguero underlines, is an essential part of the life of the Church, but the role of the readers is not limited to helping the priest in the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. The expression Aperuit Illis – meaning “he opened to them” – evokes a passage of Saint Luke’s Gospel (He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures – Lk 24:45) in which Jesus Christ invites the Apostles to accept the true dimension of the Bible as the true message of God and set out to proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God. 

The same invitation, the Dehonian missionary said, is extended to the lectors, whenever they read the Word of God: “The Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis speaks of the importance of the Ministries of the Church. The liturgy is not something exclusive to priests. There are other Ministries that help to convey that spirit of celebration, of participation. There are different activities in the liturgy and most of these are lay matters, lay people are responsible for them. This is the case with the Word of God, but also with the institution of the acolytes,” Eduardo Aguero recalls. “As far as the readership is concerned, a biblical and liturgical formation is needed. We start by a general approach to the Bible and then move on to the study of a biblical Book in particular. For instance, there was a period, in November and December, when we had a lot of readings from the Book of Hebrews and we studied the Book of Hebrews, we tried to approach it in a more detailed manner. But more than understanding the Word of God, whoever reads the Word of God has to be able to proclaim the Word of God. Understanding only is not enough,” the Argentinian priest sustains. 

A personal relationship with God

The greatest merit of the Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis is, Father Aguero claims, that it summons Catholics to deepen the way they experience faith. The Dehonian missionary maintains that we can only live faith to the fullest when we manage to build a personal relationship with God: “What happens quite often is that people, even those who attend Sunday Mass, are no longer able to cultivate this personal relationship with the Lord. We have to delve into this ourselves. The encounter with the Word of God makes us discover the essence, the life of God and helps us build a personal relationship with Him,” the Argentinian priest says. “The Word of God and the Eucharist must be understood as standing at the center of Christian life. Therefore, it is also important that the Catholics also understand the importance and the dimension of the Word of God, that they meditate on the Word of God and practice the Word of God. That’s the only way to promote a personal encounter with God, through the Word of God,” Eduardo Aguero stressed.

But the renewed interest in the Holy Scriptures goes beyond the increase in the number of readers invested in the Parish of Our Lady of Carmel. The Argentinian priest also sponsored the constitution of a Bible study group: “There is a lot of interest in the Word of God. In addition to the monthly meetings with the readers, there is also a Bible study group in Taipa. We have already had two meetings and this month we will meet again. The members of this group are keen to deepen their understanding of the Bible and, personally, I think that we have to provide them with the opportunity to get to know the word of God. I am a biblical scholar and I consider the Word of God as something very important,” Father Eduardo Aguero claims. “I study the Bible a lot and I like it a lot. So when there are people who are interested in the Word of God, I am also very interested in sharing, in helping people to meditate, to penetrate and feel the Word of God,” he concluded.