Tony Worner, Leader of Formation at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, today reads the Gospel of Luke (11:27-28), in which Jesus speaks to the crowd about the blessed being those who hear the Word of God.In the outward sign of crossing our forehead, lips, and heart, we are asking the Word of God to pierce our mind, our lips, and our heart.We are asking for understanding, to be of service, and for compassion.
Tony says, because there is only a very short Gospel text today, he will focus on the words Jesus said to the woman in the crowd, “Still happier those who hear the word of God and keep it” but especially the first part of that “Still happier those who hear the word of God”. Tony explains that he has just embarked on a series of workshops for those involved in the Ministry of the Word in our parish – our readers at Mass. One of the things Tony emphasises with them is when we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass, Christ is present in four ways. We are all familiar with Christ being present in the blessing of the bread and wine. However, He is also truly present in the gathered Assembly, in the person of the priest, and in the proclamation of the Word; the Scriptures. Tony asks us to think about this for a minute – if we hold the bread and wine up as so sacred that we need to reverence it and be reverent towards it, so should we be thinking and acting the same with those around when we gather for Mass – in the way we treat, react to, and speak with each other. So too when the priest speaks or acts, we need to give him our full attention. When we listen to the Word being proclaimed, not just by the priest but by the person proclaiming the First Reading, the Responsorial Psalm, the Second Reading, and the Gospel Acclamation, we need to be attentive to and respect the words spoken and the person proclaiming. Tony says, this of course has meaning for those who are actually proclaiming the Word. They need to be conscious of what they are doing. They need to speak clearly and slowly and with feeling the text they are reading in such a way they can actually be heard and understood. For our prayer today, Tony invites us to make the gesture that we do each time we celebrate Mass, at the time of the Gospel.