The Lamb’s Supper, Lesson 4.1

The Lamb's Supper: The Bible and the Mass

Lesson Four: Fulfilled in Your Hearing: The Liturgy of the Word

Lesson Objectives

  1. To understand Scripture as the living Word of God.
  2. To understand the place of Scripture at the center of the liturgy.
  3. To see Scripture as an encounter with Christ, the living Word of God.
  4. To see how the Liturgy of the Word prepares us for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

I. Communion with the Word of God

A. The Lord Be With You

"The Lord be with you," the priest prays at the very beginning of our Mass.

"And with your spirit," we respond.

It's a prayer of petition and at the same time it's a statement of fact. It's a petition in that we're asking that the Lord be with us as we worship. And it's a statement of fact in that we acknowledge that our prayer has already been answered. Jesus Christ promised to be with us when we gather in His name (see Matthew 18:20), and in the Mass He keeps His promise.

Jesus Christ is truly present to us in the Eucharist. But the Word of God (see John 1:1) is also truly present to us in the Scripture readings of the Liturgy of the Word.

Indeed, the Liturgy of the Word is a communion with the Word of God, just as the Liturgy of the Eucharist brings us into communion with the body and blood of Christ. As Christ comes to us in bread and wine, He comes to us, too, in the Word proclaimed to us in sacred Scripture.

In the Liturgy of the Word, we hear the story of our salvation - all the great events of salvation history, told to us and explained to us. And in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, through our communion with Christ in the bread and wine, we are joined to that story of salvation.

Our individual stories become a part of His story, the story of the salvation of the world, which reached its climax in His death and resurrection - which He has called us to remember in the Mass.

B. The Word on the Road

In our celebration of the Liturgy of the Word before the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are following not only the biblical command of Christ, but the example He gives us in Scripture.

Remember the story of the road to Emmaus in Luke (see Luke 24:13-35)? Two of Jesus' followers, walking from Jerusalem to the village of Emmaus, meet the resurrected Christ himself on the way - but in their grief and confusion over the His death, they fail to recognize Him.

As they walk, Christ interprets the Scriptures to them, showing them how Moses and the prophets foretold that all these things must happen to the Christ.

Arriving at Emmaus, they share a meal. But this is no ordinary meal. Recall the scene carefully. Notice Luke's deliberate use of the same words used in his Last Supper narrative:At table, Jesus takes . . . blesses . . . breaks . . . and gives the bread (compare Luke 22:14-20).

As we said in our first lesson, Luke is giving us a picture of the Eucharist, the first to be celebrated after the Resurrection.

Notice the two-fold pattern: the Word of God is proclaimed, followed by the breaking of the bread. This, we recognize, is the pattern of the Mass.

First, the followers of Christ hear the word of God interpreted in the light of the Gospel (seeLuke 24:27). Jesus explains how the Scriptures teach the truth about Him, how all of salvation history was leading to the events His followers had just witnessed.

This is what happens in our Liturgy of the Word. We hear readings from the Old Testament and the New, carefully chosen by the Church to illuminate one another. We see how the promises of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New, and how the New Testament sheds light on the mysteries of the Old.

With this preparation, we then approach the Eucharistic table. And in the breaking of the bread, we are brought into communion with the very mysteries of salvation history that we heard proclaimed in the Liturgy of the Word.

That's why every time Scripture is read in the Mass, we make a confession of faith followed by an act of gratitude: "This is the Word of the Lord.Thanks be to God!"

Continue to Section 2

Other Lessons

  • Lesson One: A Biblical Introduction to the Mass
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. 1. To understand basic Catholic beliefs about the relationship between the Bible and the Liturgy.
    2. To understand the biblical basis for the Mass.
    3. To understand how in the Mass, the written text of the Bible becomes Living Word.

    Begin Lesson One

  • Lesson Two: Given for You - The Old Testament Story of Sacrifice
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the biblical background to the Penitential Rite and the Gloria in the Mass.
    2. To understand how God is worshipped in the Old Testament.
    3. To understand the biblical notion of sacrifice as it is presented in the Old Testament.

    Begin Lesson Two

  • Lesson Three: One Sacrifice for All Time
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the death of Jesus Christ on the cross as a sacrifice.
    2. To see the parallels between the Old Testament sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.
    3. To understand how that sacrifice is re-presented to us in the Mass.

    Begin Lesson Three

  • Lesson Five: Heaven On Earth: The Liturgy of the Eucharist
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the deep biblical foundations for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
    2. To see how the Book of Revelation describes the liturgy of heaven.
    3. To understand how the Mass we celebrate on earth is a participation in the liturgy of heaven.

    Begin Lesson Five

  • Lesson Six: Memory and Presence: Communion as the Coming of Christ
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To understand the deep biblical foundations of Jesus’ command that the Eucharist be celebrated “in memory of Me.”
    2. To see how Scripture portrays Jesus as the Passover Lamb and how that portrayal is reflected in the Mass.
    3. To understand the Eucharist as parousia, the “coming” of Christ, and as the “daily bread” we pray for in the Our Father.

    Begin Lesson Six