I think it's safe to say that all of us who survived 2020 looked forward to the New Year; 2021. While not without some challenges, even a few set-backs, on balance 2021 seems to be moving in a better direction. The word hope seems to be used more these days than this time a year ago. To that end both our Holy Father, Pope Francis, looked forward by dedicating the new year to good St. Joseph. We too have responded here as we currently have an ongoing Consecration to St. Joseph well underway. Then our Archbishop, Gregory Aymond declared 2021 to be the Year of the Eucharist. In doing so, the Archbishop asked that monthly, we preach on the Mass, explaining the many parts of the Mass and their meaning. We have heard about the opening rites, the penitential rite and the opening prayer, known as the "collect". Today we are tasked to preach on the presence of Christ in the Word.
The Mass is really presented in two parts; the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This should never be viewed as some type of separation rather it is a single act of divine worship. All of us, as worshipping Catholics should be eager to both hear the Word proclaimed and participate in receiving the Eucharist.
So today we unpack the Word of God and why it is vital to every celebration of the Mass. The Church has determined that every Sunday Mass will have 2 readings, a responsorial psalm and the Gospel. The Gospel is the high point of the readings therefore we stand and we introduce the Gospel with a robust Alleluia, except of course during Lent.
These readings, over the course of a 3 year cycle on Sundays and a 2 year cycle on weekdays, allow us to experience almost 75% of the Bible. This year we are in Cycle B, where we explore the Gospel of St. Mark. Now, since St. Mark is the shortest of the 4 Gospels we also hear from St. John, especially during the Easter season, although today we heard from St. Luke. In today's Gospel, Jesus, very much alive having risen from the dead, shares a meal with his disciples and opens their minds to understanding the Scriptures. This is what occurs at every Mass; Jesus invites us to a meal, a banquet, the banquet of His body, blood, soul and divinity and He too wants to open our minds to the Scriptures, through the readings and the homily.
For our part, we are called to be attentive to God's Word and to discern what is God saying to me? What does he want me to learn from His holy Word? God desires that we unite ourselves to His Word, allowing the Scriptures to penetrate our very hearts and help us to experience joy and peace. There is no better way to prepare for Mass than to read the readings before Mass, to make notes or jot down any questions. After Mass, it is also recommended that we review what we heard proclaimed, to reflect on the words of the homily and offer it all to God in prayer. Praying with Scripture is highly commendable.
When we heard the Gospel of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus we recall that while Jesus broke open the Word, their hearts were burning, when Jesus broke the bread, their eyes were opened. This experience is the Mass. At every Mass we attend, our hearts should burn with excitement and joy at the very words we hear proclaimed and our eyes opened at the Consecration and words of Institution; the breaking of the Bread.
When we leave this Mass today, may we be fully aware of the great gift of the Word of God and the Eucharist; a single act of Divine Worship!