What is our role as participants at Mass during the Liturgy of the Word?

Written by Sandra Dooley - parishioner, liturgist, and author.

The Liturgy of the Word is one of the two high points during the Mass, the second being the Liturgy of the Eucharist during which the bread and wine are consecrated and we all partake of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The Liturgy of the Word “opens up for us the treasury of his word and enables us to proclaim its unfathomable riches before the world.” (AI#2) Yes, this part of the Mass is basically a school of apprenticeship in which we learn to live our lives as Jesus would have us live. It is the time to listen to the Word of God and internalize that Word into our daily lives. God’s Word is alive and active today! We are not just listening to stories from over 2000 years ago. Our active participation in the Liturgy of the Word (listening with as much attention as we can muster) helps us know Jesus, how he and his apostles and prophets lived and how their lives and experiences can speak to us today. Have you ever listened to a Scripture reading at Mass or heard a homily and found it to be exactly what you needed to hear that day? That is the living Word of God!

The Introduction to the Lectionary makes clear the role of every person in the church during the Liturgy of the Word: “the faithful…are to listen to the word of God with an inward and outward reverence that will bring them continuous growth in the spiritual life and draw them more deeply into the mystery which is celebrated.”  (IL 45)

Jesus has something to say to us today, through the proclamation of the Scriptures by the lector, deacon and priest and in the words of the homily, which are intended to help us enter more deeply into the word of God and relate God’s word to what is going on in our world and in our individual lives today.

At the end of each reading, we get to respond to what we have just heard with an acclamation (“Thanks be to God” or “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”) and  a few moments of silence to briefly reflect on what we have just heard – and perhaps think about how we can allow the words we’ve heard to permeate and affect our lives once we walk out the doors of the church!

See part 1: The Bible and the Lectionary