ROME – Pope Francis continued his meditations on liturgy by discussing the readings at Mass, when faithful are called to have an open heart and remain silent to listen to the Gospel.
“How many times, while the Word of God is being read, you hear: ‘Look at him… look at her… look at that hat she’s wearing; It’s ridiculous…’ And People start to chitchat. Right?” the pope said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square Wednesday morning.
“Should we chitchat while the Word of God is being read?” he asked the crowd, which in turn answered with a loud “No!”
The reading is “an experience that takes place ‘live’ and not by hearsay,” Francis explained, because it is the moment in which God speaks to his people.
“The pages of the Bible stop being a written word to become a living word, pronounced by God,” he said. “It’s God who, through the person who’s reading, speaks to us and questions us who listen with faith.”
For this reason the pope encouraged the faithful to look to the Gospel and not the newspaper to get the news of the day. “The Word of God is the Word of God!” Francis said, “we can read the newspaper later.”
The reading is food served by God to feed our spiritual life, the pope continued, which draws from the “bountiful feast” of the Old and New Testament. Francis also encouraged mass goers not to forget the importance of the Responsorial Psalm, which is meant to encourage meditation on the reading. “It’s good for the Psalm to be enhanced with song, at least in the refrain,” the pope said.
The readings, and the songs drawn from Scripture, also “express and favor ecclesial communion, accompanying the journey of each and everyone,” he added.
Francis also stressed the importance of having good readers, “not those who read incomprehensibly and no one understands anything,” who should prepare and rehearse before the Mass.
The pope offered these suggestions to encourage people at Mass to listen to the Gospel, which is essential for their everyday lives. “How could we face our earthy pilgrimage, with its trials and challenges, without being regularly fed and illuminated by the Word of God which rings in the Liturgy?” Francis asked.
“Definitely it’s not enough to hear with our ears, without welcoming in our hearts the seed of the divine Word, allowing it to bear fruit.”
Listening to the liturgy is not enough, it must reach the heart of the faithful in order for it to lead to action. “This is the journey of the Word of God: From the ears to the heart to the hands,” Francis concluded in an off the cuff remark. “Let’s learn these things.”