At mass you might have noticed when the Priest and others come forward towards the altar there is a very large book processed in by a Deacon or a Lay Proclaimer of the Word. The book is held high and is placed on the altar. One can see that great reverence and care is given towards this book. As the time in our Liturgy comes to proclaim the Gospel, the Deacon or Priest will take this book and hold it high above the entire assembly. I see parishioners either bow or show some form of reverence towards this sacred book. Catholics then do something interesting; we make the sign of the cross on our foreheads, our lips and over our hearts. After the proclamation of the Gospel the book is reverenced with a kiss by the one who proclaimed the Gospel.
It is hard to miss that Catholics really reverence the Word of God during the entire first part of the Mass- the Liturgy of the Word. So what do these external acts say about our lives?
The procession of this Book reminds us that as we journey through life the words of Jesus are the protection, the guidance and the way we follow. Wherever we go, His words go with us. Here is the most challenging one, when the time comes to proclaim the Gospel the Priest or Deacon holds high the Book and presents it to all of God’s people. It is held high to say that the Words of Jesus have the highest authority over our lives. Everything else is secondary to the life giving Gospel of Jesus. What is taught by Jesus is more important than anything we hear in our lives.
When we make the sign of the cross on our foreheads, lips and heart we are saying the following. That the words of Jesus be in our minds, we bend our minds to his way of thinking, we give reflection and thought to living His words. On our lips, says what comes from our mouths is truth, never lies, or words that damage people or takes away their dignity. We speak truth with love. On our hearts says the truth of Jesus lives in our hearts and we give evidence of this by our behavior.
So all this happens at every Mass we attend. The question for Lent is: is this happening in our lives? Does our behavior say Jesus is first? Do the decisions we make in life give clear evidence to others that we follow Jesus? Do we simply decide we disagree with His teaching and do nothing to discover what He really means? These are important things to wrestle with for all of us Christians.
The next time the Book of the Gospels are held high over us, are we saying the words about to be proclaimed are the most important words we will ever hear? Give some evidence that Jesus is Lord over all in your life!
Peace in Christ,