Source and Summit #5 – The Liturgy of the Word
My dear listeners, this is the next part of revealing the mystery of the Eucharist. I’m standing at the ambo. The altar, the ambo and the chair. Now we will talk about this great part of the Eucharist we call the Liturgy of the Word.
A priest at the ambo reads the Gospel. Readers read the First Reading and the Second Reading, cantors sing the Psalm before the Gospel. The Liturgy of the Word is incredibly important. It is very important to be aware that the Book of life, the Holy Scripture is lying on the ambo. The lectionary is an extract from the Bible. After the Second Vatican Council biblical lecture is very rich. In the years that followed, we read God’s word with patience. We know that the word of God, the Holy Scripture is a love letter from God to every one of us. We want to listen to God, we want to open our ears for listening. During the readings people sit down to listen carefully. It is very important to remember the ancient Christian rule: The word of God you listen to is talking to you and talking about you. We sometimes think about other people during listening to God’s word. It is not a good tendency. We should listen to God’s word as if the word are said exactly to me, in a very concrete moment of my life here and now with all my experiences, illnesses, sufferings, problems and also joys. I come to God and I want to listen to him because his word is the answer to my problems and also helps me enjoy this life. It is very important to listen to God’s word carefully. Nowadays we have a problem listening to one another. We are very disturbed, we have a lot of ideas, a lot of thoughts. Are we able to calm down? Are we able to hear God’s voice in this media and world noise? It is possible to hear what God is telling us but it costs. Focus is the price.
In biblical lectures on Sundays we listen to three readings. The First Reading, the Second Reading and the Gospel. We always stand when listening to the Gospel. We listen to Christ’s words. We may say that we stand at attention like soldiers because it is Christ speaking to us, our Lord who is standing with us. We stand listening to Christ’s words because our Lord is speaking. It is important, as Pope Francis reminds us, to choose the best lectors. It cannot be a random person who comes to the ambo without the proper skills. It is crucial to choose lectors and take care of them, prepare them for this task. Biblical language isn’t easy. It’s not our common language that we use in our homes and families. It is very important to have well-prepared lectors who read with care and understanding. Between readings we sing the Psalm. It should be sung but it sometimes happens that it’s read. In that situation the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that at least the verse should be sung. The rest can be read. It is also the word of God, it is a meditation of the word which helps us better participate in this part of the Eucharist.
There is also one important note about reading God’s word. Pope Francis said this about it during his catechesis about the Eucharist. God’s word we listen to is on a way. At the beginning we listen to it with our ears, from our ears the word goes to the heart and from the heart to our hands. It means that the word is not to only stay in our hearts. This word leads us to action. We, the listeners, cannot go back home unchanged. Why? Because we heard God’s word! In ancient churches, roman basilicas lectors, deacons and priests went up the stairs to the ambo. There were no microphones of course. The ambo was higher so that listeners could easily hear what was read. After the Gospel, the reader went down other stairs. It was a sign that after listening to Jesus I cannot go back the same way, but I have to choose the way proposed by the Gospel.
My dear listeners, it is so important to listen carefully. Last year Pope Francis announced that the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Sunday of the Word of God. In Poland we had Biblical Sunday recently, but Pope Francis announced the Sunday of the Word of God in the whole Church. Why? To draw our attention to the importance of God’s word said to us every day. Pope Francis has many times, through his almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, given away little books of the Gospel. Why? So that everyone can have it and read it. Pope Francis, in his letter announcing the Sunday of the Word of God said: My dear! Younger and older download for your mobile and smartphone, God’s word application, the Holy Scripture, to be able to read it. You are going somewhere by tram, by tube, by bus – read the word. Francis said: If you read God’s word every day, sooner or later it will change you. We have to believe that the word can change us! I invite you to read Mass readings before the Eucharist. You will listen to them in another way, in a better way and the word will change you.