Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. As we continue in this series on the Mass, today we’re going to be talking about the Liturgy of the Word. This is the first half of Mass where we really dive into the scriptures and help receive the Word of God into our hearts and let it bear fruit in our lives.
So we hear a bunch of different readings during this first part of the mass. The first reading we hear is from the Old Testament, and for me these are really opportunities for us to see how has God made promises to his people and how has he kept those promises. A lot of the promises that he makes during the Old Testament aren’t fulfilled until Jesus, and Jesus is the fulfillment of all of God’s goodness and his promise to his people. So as we look at these readings, it’s an invitation for us, for ourselves, and for our families to think about, “When has God made promises to me?” or “When has he asked me to wait on something? When have I had to trust in his timing? How has he proven his faithfulness to me and to these people that we’re hearing about in the Old Testament?”
The next reading that we hear or we go through is the psalm. They call this the responsorial psalm because there’s a call and a response. Typically on Sundays we sing this psalm. Now the Psalms are a book in the Bible that are composed of, some people call them poems or songs or prayers or praises, all these are correct. Most of them were written by King David, and what I love about the Psalms is that they really show how we can turn to God in prayer no matter what is going on in our lives.
So sometimes the Psalms are really coming from a place of deep despair, and you’ll hear the person who wrote the psalm cry out, “God you’ve abandoned me! I’ve been forsaken! I’m in the depths of the grave! Where are you?” Then other times in the Psalms we’ll hear the psalmist say things like, “God your name be blessed, and you have changed my life and you have filled me with joy and hope and you’re like the dawn” and it’s complete opposite.
We can reflect more deeply on the readings, and again let them affect our hearts and hopefully our lives.
And so I think our invitation for the Psalms is when we hear one on Sunday to ask ourselves and our families, our children, spouses when is a time in your life where you really felt like this psalm was expressing what you were going through? So if the psalm is something that’s really coming from a place of despair, when was a time in your life when you experienced this and how did you turn to God in that? Maybe there’s a time in your life right now that you’re going through where this psalm fits. How can you pray with these words and turn to God and use this to express what’s going on in your life.
After this, we hear a reading from the New Testament, and these are from the letters written to the early Church, and what I like about these is that these readings really dive into how can we live out our faith in the challenges of our lives. So we hear about times when the early Church struggled and how their leaders coached them and counseled them and directed them to make changes and to draw deeper into community and to hear more and more what God was inviting them into. So we can ask the same question. Where am i struggling in my faith? How can I take the advice and the counsel offered in that New Testament reading and apply it to my life this week?
After that we hear the Gospel, and this is the reading that we stand for because it’s about Jesus’s life, and we’re standing to recognize that he’s present there in a powerful way when we hear about his life and we hear about what he taught and the things that he did, his healing works and his miracles. So it’s an invitation for us to think about how do I see Jesus at work in my life today. We’re able to ask the question all right based off of this account from Jesus’s life that I just heard, what do I now know about Jesus or what did I discover about him that’s new or how can I turn to him in new ways or how can I grow in trust of him? How can I see him more at work in my life based off of the way that he encountered the people when he was here in the world?
I think it’s a beautiful thing for us as families to read the readings before we go to Mass because then we’re not hearing them for the first time in the pew. It’s something that we’ve taken time to reflect over during our week leading up to Mass. I know that lives are busy, and so it’s hard to do that sometimes. I would say find a time where you’re already together, maybe in the car, on the way to school, or if you’re able to have dinner together as a family use that time to just, one day during the week, read the gospel for the coming Sunday, and ask about what do you think this means? What do you think the priest is going to talk about? How do you think this applies to your life?
And those are just a couple of ways that we can reflect more deeply on the readings, and again let them affect our hearts and hopefully our lives. We’ll be praying for you at Ablaze Ministries, that you’ll enter more deeply into the Liturgy of the Word the next time you go to Mass. From all of us here, God bless.