The Word of God proclaimed at Mass:
When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel (GIRM, no. 29).
The words of Sacred Scripture are unlike any other texts we will ever hear. In the reading and hearing of Scripture, our Triune God is revealed to us. His unfathomable loving-mercy is poured out on us, and we are shown how to respond to such an awesome God!
When the Word of God is proclaimed and heard it brings about what is proclaimed, ““Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:21. It is not something to be learned but something that is lived. When we truly hear the Word proclaimed, we are drawn up into Christ, that is, The Word of God.
How, then, do we respond to this wonderful gift of God’s Word (proclamation of His Word in Mass)?
Most importantly, we listen to the Word of God. The Bible is meant to be listened to more that it is meant to be read privately. We as Catholics respond with our entire being; we stand, we sit, we kneel, we genuflect. We use our voices to respond in word and song. After certain time in the Mass there is silent meditation when we reflect of the Word.
The Gospel is the highpoint of the Liturgy of the Word. We stand as the Deacon or Priest reads the Gospel. During Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer we also stand during the Benedictus and Magnificat since these also are Gospel Reading. The Book of the Gospels is carried aloft with honor in the entrance procession and placed on the altar until the Gospel reading to show the unity of Scripture and Eucharist, of the table of the Word and the table of the Christ’s body and blood. Just before the Gospel is read the Gospel book is carried in procession to the ambo to the accompaniment of an acclamation sung by the people. It may be incensed before the reading and is kissed at its conclusion.
What must we do to properly receive the Word of God proclaimed at Mass?
As the Word of God, Old Testament, New Testament and Gospel are proclaimed we Listen reverently and attentively. We are called to attentively as the reader, deacon or priest proclaims God’s Word. Unless one is unable to hear, one should not be reading along with a text from a missal or missalette. We Listen as we would if Christ himself were standing at the ambo, for in fact it is God who speaks when the Scriptures are proclaimed. Perhaps the best way to understand the readings at Mass and our response to them is offered by Blessed John Paul II in his Instruction Dies Domini. He encourages “those who take part in the Eucharist—priest, ministers and faithful… to: prepare ourselves for the Mass, reflecting beforehand upon the readings which will be proclaimed” If we do not, “it is difficult for the liturgical proclamation of the word of God alone to produce the fruit we might expect”. In this way we will till the soil, preparing our souls to receive the seeds to be planted by the Word of God so that seed may bear fruit