By Manolito S. Jaldon Jr.,
Director of Evangelization & Faith Formation, St. Brendan Parish
As part of our message series, Mass Communication, each week we will summarize the part of the Mass preached about in the previous Sunday’s homily. This week, the spotlight is on the Liturgy of the Word.
At the beginning of our message series, Bishop Justice stressed the importance of putting on Christ together as we gather each Sunday. Father Reyes also reminded us that we are not alone in our brokenness when we enter into the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass. We now focus on the Liturgy of the Word, which includes three distinct movements.
First, the Word is proclaimed in the assembly, which is a practice rooted in the Jewish liturgical tradition of breaking open the Word. Jewish children historically would copy passages of Scripture onto honeycomb tablets and then later enjoyed eating the honey. It was a reminder of how sweet and delicious God’s Word is to his people. This practice echoes the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart” (15:16).
God’s Word is not recited at Mass as an historical text. Rather, the proclamation of the Word is the dynamic and relevant voice of God calling his people to himself. It recounts salvation history, the early Church, and the public ministry of Jesus Christ. All of this is woven together through text, teaching, and chant.
Second, the assembly reflects on the Word in silence. As opposed to the noise of everyday life, the liturgy welcomes silence as a way of being attentive to God’s voice. Silence at Mass allows us to deeply reflect, even if just for a moment, on what was spoken to us, what we have sung, and what we contemplate in the sacred art present in God’s house.
Third, the assembly responds to the Word. After passages from Scripture have been read, the priest preaches the homily. Indeed, his first responsibility is to preach God’s Word. He spends his days praying with the Scriptures and studying the Word, in order to make it both relevant to our lives and consistent with the Church’s profession of faith through the centuries.
As the priest responds to God’s Word in his teaching, we also respond by professing the ancient formula of all the eternal truths we believe in the Nicene Creed. We then respond by bringing petitions to the Father for the needs of the Church, for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world, for those burdened by any kind of difficulty, for the local community, and for the dead, a custom adapted from Solemn Vespers.
The Word proclaimed, reflected upon, and responded to are the three key movements of the Liturgy of the Word. As we listen, may we never harden our hearts, but rather approach the Lord with praise and thanksgiving. For each time we celebrate the Word, we are like the disciples walking with the Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, to the breaking of the bread.
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