“The Word of God is a two-edged sword”. We know the phrase The Word of God “ so well. But the phrase can convey a static reality – the book that is the bible, or the lectionary, the words on a page. Some priests at the end of the Gospel hold up the lectionary and say: “The Gospel of the Lord”. However, the gospel is not the book, nor the Word of God the reading. It is the presence of the living God speaking to your heart.
Not the reading by the lector, but through the words just proclaimed, you are being spoken to by God himself. The Word is this intimate, deeply sacred encounter, God opening his heart to you. What an extraordinary miracle, at every Eucharist, God has something so special to say to me that God comes to speak my own heart. And God does so because God knows what we most need to hear – comfort, challenge, understanding, forgiveness, warning, love, insight, and appreciation. God knows at this moment of encounter exactly what you need to hear. But so often, the reading is over, and we haven’t listened at all – to the actual reading itself or the deeper ‘word’ offered to my heart.
And every time God speaks, God is not telling you something; God is offering you something. He offers grace and gift to do, be, use, become, whatever that word is. In today’s readings, God is not telling you, through Jesus’ words, HOW to pray, God is offering you the prayerful, child-like spirit of prayerfulness itself.
So, let’s listen up. The Real Presence of Jesus at mass is not only the presence through the bread and wine but also through the Word proclaimed, the Table of the Word and the Table of the Sacrament. We should approach the liturgy of the Word with the same gratitude and revenue that we approach Holy Communion.
Fr Tom McDonough CP is the current provincial superior of Holy Spirit province.