It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written, so first, let me say, “Happy Easter!” A few weeks back, Msgr. Walter and I shared a birthday (only a few years apart), and I was blessed to receive my favorite desert: a delicious tiramisu. Of course, two tiramisus are way too much for the three of us to eat without having to buy bigger clerical shirts, so we ate them over a few days. And one of the things we noticed is that tiramisu actually gets better as it sits! The coffee flavoring has a chance to soak into the ladyfingers and give the dessert a lot of flavor! Needless to say, they didn’t last too long…
The reason I bring this up has to do with the topic of my column, the prayers that the priest or deacon says quietly before or after the Gospel. Before the Gospel, making the sign of the cross over our foreheads, mouth, and chest, we pray, “May the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart.”
Many times, it can be easy for us to zone out while listening to the Gospel. We might be tired or uncomfortable, or we might just think, “Oh, I know how this one goes, since I’ve heard it 1,431 times already,” at which point, we stop paying attention. But really, the more we listen to the Word of God, and the more we pay close attention to what God is trying to say to us specifically, the more we let that Word soak into our hearts and give our lives flavor. When we read the Gospel, we invite the Lord’s teaching to soak into us, or to use the analogy of Jesus, to take root in us.
After the Gospel, we pray, “Through the words of the Gospel, may our sins be wiped away.” This is a brief prayer of reconciliation, and while it doesn’t grant sacramental forgiveness like the Sacrament of Penance, the intent is to impress upon us the humility we need to welcome the Lord’s forgiveness into our hearts. When we do that, we remove those barriers that would keep us from listening to God’s Word, and like the tiramisu, we allow it to soak into us and give our lives flavor.
All of us make the sign of the Cross on the forehead, the mouth, and the chest before the Gospel, so maybe the next time you do so, try to make a conscious effort to open your heart to the Lord’s teaching, and allow his Word to soak into you!