In the Second Reading for Mass the Sunday, we hear St. James speaking about the importance of the Word of God, that we should “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” (Jas 1:21) He then gives us an important challenge: “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” (Jas 1:22) For the past few weeks, we have been focusing on the importance of the Eucharist in our lives as Catholics. But we must also bear in mind the important role the Word of God in Sacred Scripture also plays in our lives. The Second Vatican Council provides a beautiful summary of how these two are related, especially at Mass:
The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord, since, especially in the sacred liturgy, she unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s body. (Dei Verbum, 21)
In a document he wrote on the Word of God, Pope Benedict XVI also highlights how deepening our love for the Word of God is at the service of a fuller encounter with the Lord when we are at Mass:
Just as the adoration of the Eucharist prepares for, accompanies and follows the liturgy of the Eucharist, so too prayerful reading, personal and communal, prepares for, accompanies and deepens what the Church celebrates when she proclaims the word in a liturgical setting. (Verbum Domini, 86)
Praying with the Word of God, especially with the readings given to us each day by the Church, is a practice that has grown in recent decades in the Church. Thankfully, we have more resources than ever to facilitate this encounter with the Word of God, both written and electronic. For example, beginning this weekend, you will find copies of The Word Among Us, a monthly publication that includes the daily Mass readings, along with daily reflections on those readings and a few other articles. Feel free to pick one up to help you in deepening your commitment to being nourished by the Word of God. Another popular publication that many use is Magnificat. You can also find the daily readings online at https://bible.usccb.org.
In the above quote from Pope Benedict, he points out that the prayerful reading of the Word of God is encouraged on both the personal and the communal level. When we invite others into our prayer with the Word of God, we are exposed to the unique ways that God speaks to each of us and we are blessed by the sharing of those insights with one another, insights we might not have encountered if our prayer only remains in the personal realm.
With that in mind, we would like to make the communal reading and praying with the Word of God an opportunity for our parish. Beginning Tuesday, September 21, continuing every other Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm, we will gather together to break open the Scriptures for the upcoming Sunday liturgy. Joining us will be the candidates who are in the process of discerning entrance into the Catholic Church. Please consider coming to join us for any of these evenings. I think you will find that doing so will deepen your love of Sacred Scripture and enhance your overall encounter with the Lord at Mass as He feeds us with His very self in Word and Sacrament.