by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
My guess is that many of us here in this church remember years ago, when we talked about our obligation to go to Mass on Sunday and we made the distinction between mortal sin and venial sin. If we got there before the priest began the offertory, you know we missed that whole part of the Mass, but it wasn’t so bad because it was only a venial sin. If you came after that, of course, you were in big trouble. It’s a mortal sin.
But since the Second Vatican Council, we don’t make that kind of distinction anymore. I don’t think any of us probably think in terms of making sure we get to the three principal parts of the Mass. Now the Mass is the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We give much more importance now to the word of God, and that’s the way it should be because God’s word, as we heard in today’s first lesson, is a powerful word. God’s word not only tells us something, but it makes something happen.
It’s a creative word, and that’s what Isaiah was telling the people who had been in exile for so long: “God is going to bring about your return.” Now, they saw no evidence of it, but Isaiah says it with firmness, and he said why: “As the rain, the snow come down from the heavens and do not return until they have watered the earth, making it yield seed for the sower and food for others to eat, so is my word that goes forth out of my mouth. It will not return to me empty.”…