Part Two: Liturgy of the Word
Usually, when we gather as a family or as friends for a meal, we begin with a conversation telling our stories. Likewise, after the gathering rites during Mass, the Liturgy of the Word follows. God speaks to us in the inspired Words of the Bible and we listen to Him. Having heard him speak, we thank Him by saying “Thanks be to God”.
On Sundays, there are three readings. The first reading, except during the Easter Season, is from the Old Testament. It relates to the Gospel and so it sounds like a background and insight to understand better what Jesus speaks to us in the Gospel. After the first reading, there is a Responsorial Psalm. The second reading is, usually, from any one of the letters of St. Paul or from one of the letters by other Apostles. The third reading is from one of the four Gospels. Just before reading the Gospel, the priest bows before the altar and prays that God may grant him the grace to proclaim the Gospel.
We all remain standing while the Gospel is read because Jesus speaks to us and so we show our attentive reverence. The priest greets the people, then introduces the Gospel writer and makes the sign of the cross on the forehead, lips, and heart, in order to clean his mind, lips and heart and thus enable him to proclaim the Gospel in a worthy manner. Following the priest, the people also make the sign of the cross for cleansing them and to enable them to listen with faith. The Gospel is concluded with the response of the people, saying: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”, and thus praise Him for having spoken to us.
Homily follows the readings. Its purpose is for “breaking the Word of God” and applying it to our life situation today. Unlike a talk or speech given in a meeting, the homily is an interpretation and application of God’s Word to our personal life. Hence the assembly is expected to keep the heart and mind open and personalize God’s message.
To be continued
Fr. Arul Joseph V.