Your words are spirit, Lord, and they are life;
you have the message of eternal life.
Gospel Acclamation. cf Jn6:63,68
On Sunday, the 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the first of the alternative Gospel Acclamations has us sing in praise of the power and dignity of the word of God.
What is true of all Scripture is especially true of the Gospels, that we honour at that point of the Mass. We indicate that special honour of the Gospels, that tell us most directly of Jesus by relating the story of his life, ministry and teaching, in a variety of ritual ways. These may be so familiar to us that we fail to note them and their number.
- We stand for this reading
- We sing to greet this reading
- We use an ordained minister – deacon or priest – for the Gospel’s proclamation
- Servers stand at the ambo holding candles during the proclamation
- The reading may be read from a separate Gospel Book, instead of the regular Lectionary
- The minister formally greets the congregation before beginning the proclamation – and they respond
- The Gospel Book or Lectionary may be incensed before the proclamation of the Gospel itself
- The introduction of the Gospel reading, ‘ A reading from…’ is met by a response from the congregation: ‘Glory to you, O Lord’, and all sign their forehead, lips and breast with the sign of the Cross.
- At the end of the proclamation the Book is venerated with a kiss by the deacon or priest. (When a Bishop presides the book of the Gospels is carried to him for his veneration, and the Bishop is encouraged to bless the Congregation with the book.)
There should be no missing the great dignity of this moment in our celebration.
But the greater glory is not the ritual of our preparation to greet the word, but the word itself proclaimed, that (who) is Christ himself, personally present and speaking to all, and to each individually – heart to heart. He speaks – to us all and to each of us in our particularity – and calls us to newness of life in him.
His words challenge, comfort, affirm and, always, invite us to come closer to him, to live in him, by him.
The sacramental dialogue of prayer and life that he invites us to includes the whole of the Mass, but the proclamation of the Gospel is an especially important moment in this dialogue.
- How many of the above are you already alert to?
- How do they feature in your prayerful response to and reception of the Gospel?
- And in the response and reception of your parish in general?
Cupboard for reservation of the Gospels. Mosiac at San Vitale, Ravenna. (c) 2004, Allen Morris