Being attuned to the presence of God at Mass is vitally important if we are to be formed by liturgy over the course of life. In this article, Scripture teacher Gayle Somers reflects upon the encounter with God possible in the Liturgy of the Word and offers important concrete suggestions for entering more deeply into the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass.
“When we take up the sacred Scriptures and read them with the Church, we walk once more with God in the Garden.”[i] Who can resist an invitation like this—to share the intimate communion with God given originally to Adam in Eden? Every time we are at Mass, the Church welcomes us to the Table of the Word, to this great reality. The Fathers of Vatican II told us that “…in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the Word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.”[ii] When we truly comprehend this statement, the only question to be asked of us is: Are we paying attention?
All of us know how easy it is for our minds to wander during the Scripture readings at Mass. We are particularly susceptible to this if (1) they are unfamiliar to us, (2) we don’t understand their meanings, and (3) we don’t recognize them as being spoken by God himself. St. Jerome put his finger on this last problem: “When we approach the [Eucharistic] Mystery, if a crumb falls to the ground we are troubled. Yet when we are listening to the Word of God, and God’s Word and Christ’s flesh and blood [in His Word] are being poured into our ears, yet we pay no heed, what great peril should we not feel?”[iii] The Church assures us that God is the author of Scripture; he inspired men to write what he desired his people to know.[iv] No wonder St. Jerome was so unsettled by the thought of indifference toward hearing Scripture read at Mass. He was echoing the sentiment of St. Augustine: “For now, treat the Scriptures of God as the face of God; melt in its presence.”[v]