Eucharistic reflections in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress. June 2008.

The Table of the Word

Reflection # 4

September, 2007

by Peter Thompson

Liturgy of the Word

At the conclusion of the first and second reading the lector proclaims. "The word of the Lord". We respond. "Thanks be to God".

We are thanking God for the words that we have received. Hopefully we have listened to them and if asked could give a brief overview of what we just heard. I remember at a conference I was attending where the Celebrant Bishop at the closing Mass proposed this question before he began his homily.

If you were to die today and stood before St. Peter at the gates of heaven and St. Peter said to you. If you can answer these three questions correctly then you can enter heaven.

  1. At Mass today what was the first reading?
  2. At Mass today what was the second reading?
  3. At Mass today what was the Gospel about?

As you read this, no doubt following Mass today ask yourself those same three questions!!

We all suffer at times from spiritual amnesia, our minds so easily wander and it takes real discipline to remain attentive and listening.

We have heard from both the Old and New testaments, words that are living and active. The Bible is not a dead word but a living word that can change hearts, if we are open. In the Book of Hebrews Ch 4: 12, we read. Indeed, God's word is living and effective, sharper than any two edged sword. it penetrates and divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the reflections and thoughts of the heart.

What the writer is saying, is that the Scriptures are meant to challenge us and help us to change our lives. To repent and live lives of holiness.

Remember that in Rev. 21:27 it says; nothing imperfect can enter therein. That means that each one of us must be purified and transformed to be Capital S Saints before we can enter heaven.

Responsorial Psalm.

The Psalms are ancient Hebrew prayers, poetic in nature, often beautiful in their prose and thoughts. At times however filled with human anguish as the writer pours out his sorrows to the Lord God. Remember the first line of Ps. 22. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me. Jesus spoke these words from his cross of suffering on Calvary. So often we do not know how to pray and we are lost for words. Here in the psalms is a rich source of prayer that can bring solace to troubled souls if we will draw deeply from this wellspring of prayer.

Here are some one line samples.
Ps 130. Out of the depths I have called to thee, O Lord.
Ps. 67. May God have pity on us and bless us:
Ps. 51. Have mercy on me, O God........
Ps. 23. The Lord is my shepherd.......

Our response after each verse repeats the theme of the psalm, echoing our prayer to the most Holy God. Let us learn as the Hebrews did, to cry out to God in honest human emotions knowing that God hears our cry and knows our weakness and pain.

The Gospel.

Now we come to the high point in the table of the Word. The Gospel reading will be drawn from one of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. These four Gospels have been held as authentic right from the early years of the Church and were formally defined as part of the Canon of Scripture by the Catholic Church at the Councils of Hippo and Carthage in 393 and 397AD.

We realize the solemnity as we stand to hear the word: a sign of our anticipation of Christ's return in glory. We are ready Lord to hear your word.

The Gospel acclamation is an introductory text from the Scripture and either sung or said, it reflects the word we are about to hear. Then our Alleluia which simply means. Praise the Lord. The priest or deacon now says. " A reading from the Holy Gospel according to ........... Glory to you Lord, is our response. These words of praise should reflect the expectation in our hearts and minds that we are about to hear the very words of God spoken in great clarity to us. All of us the priest included makes a tiny sign of the cross on our forehead, lips and heart, praying quietly that the word of God may be in my mind, upon my lips and in my heart. We are praying that this word will find an open door to the core of our lives. Often the words of Jesus will profoundly disturb us. Remember it is God himself who is speaking to us in the Gospel.

If we are disturbed by these words then let us thank him, for it is God's desire that we should all be transformed and come to him with repentant hearts ready to listen and be healed.

Our final response to the Gospel is. " Praise be to you O Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, let us praise God from the depth of our hearts for God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to die for us in order that we could enter into eternal joy and happiness.

Let your word Lord be upon my mind, that my thoughts will be formed by your word. On my lips, that I may always be ready to speak your name, and deep in my heart that I might love you always.