By Msgr Michael de Verteuil
We sit to listen. We—the people who have accepted the Word as the word of truth, who have been formed by the Word. Here we are before God and here God is before us.
I remember Ezra reading God’s word to the people (Neh 8:2–6), the people prostrating before the Word. What reverence, what respect for God’s presence in the Word. I make a conscious decision to be reverent before the Lord in the Word.
“The word of the Lord.”
“Thanks be to God.”
Thanks be to God that God has revealed self to us, that God has given us the grace to believe.
Sometimes I say the “Thanks be to God” so easily without having paid much attention to what has been read. Sometimes I take the Word so much for granted. Sometime ago, when I was abroad and attended weekday Masses in a parish church, my mind would disappear elsewhere as soon as the reader began.
I learnt then that if I read the readings before Mass I paid far more attention when I heard them in Mass. I learned too that paying attention is work but work that bears fruit.
I pay attention to the response to the psalm and often use it as a mantra, repeating it throughout the day; I find that as I do so, unexpected riches often reveal themselves through the few words. “Alleluia.”
We stand; sometimes we use candles and incense—all signs of something important about to happen. Christ is in our midst and proclaims the Gospel using my voice to bring to life the words of Scripture for the community.
Ivan Illich, Croatian-Austrian philosopher and Roman Catholic priest, refers to reading in the liturgy as ‘midwifery’. How can I not give it my all?
I and all God’s people trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads, our lips, our hearts. Lord, may your word control my intellect, my will; may your word guide my words; may your Word be master of my desires. I listen to the words I read. Jesus spoke them or they were written about Jesus 2,000 years ago.
They were written so that I and all who are listening now and believe might have life. I listen; I reflect. What is life-giving for me here and now? What food do I receive from this table of God’s Word? And what food can I share with the assembled people of God?
Msgr Michael de Verteuil is the chairman of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, and moderator of the Sangre Grande/Coryal/Toco/Matelot cluster.