You are here: Home / Associated Text

Invited to a meal - Share the news... (3)

Before we go to the dinner table, we usually ask our friends and guests what has happened to them since the last time we met. It is only polite that the two groups are prepared to listen to each other. There is nothing more frustrating, than to have the impression that we are speaking to ourselves. Also, if our invited guests are related to us, and a family member has received a letter from a common friend, we may read parts of it as we share the news.

At the Eucharist, there is time set aside to listen. We may hear about a passage from a book of the Old Testament or a letter written by an Apostle to the early Christians. Most important of all, we hear the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Gospel. This part of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word. It is a privileged time. God addresses us through the passages from Old and New Testaments, but he must often wonder if the people he addresses are deaf, since so many of them appear to be distracted. For if it is polite to listen, how much more polite is it to respond.

During Mass, there are moments to respond with the refrains of the psalms. These ancient prayers have been on the lips of innumerable people beginning with those who lived thousands of years ago. Psalms are often a plea for guidance and assistance. They are poetic and prayerful responses from the heart of those who have come to hear God speak to them.

The priest begins this dialogue.  The Lord be with you. The congregation politely responds.  And with your spirit. When the priest announces the reading of the Gospel, the assembly responds, Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.  The homily that follows consists of a commentary of the Word of God, often a reflection on the Gospel. We listen and take the words to heart as we strive to act as the Lord has asked us in the Gospel. It’s the surest way to live our lives as baptized Christians.

Finally the Liturgy of the Word concludes by the recitation of our Creed, our oral profession of faith. A prayer for the universal Church follows this. This is the time to listen, to respond and to ask. This leads into the Eucharistic meal, for the Word has been addressed to each of us as Jesus’ brothers and sisters united around the family table.

Ghislaine Salvail, sjsh
Translated by Honore Kervin-Borrelli


Go back to last page