As we saw last week, we all begin Mass by making the Sign of the Cross over our bodies. We are then greeted by the priest with a greeting taken from the Scriptures. There are three formulae given in the Missal: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. And thirdly, the simple “The Lord be with you”. To each of these the people respond “And with your spirit”.
The first two of these greetings are taken from the letters of St Paul who begins his words to the Christian communities to which he is writing with these greetings. The simple “The Lord be with you” is a very long standing greeting throughout the Scriptures. We find it’s like what is being said to the prophets and to Mary in the account of the Annunciation. It expresses the constant conviction of the People of God that God is indeed with them. It calls on the words of Jesus which end Matthew’s Gospel: “I will be with you all days even to the end of the world.” It reminds us that we are the contemporary People of God.
This greeting is said to remind the gathered faithful of the presence of the Lord with them. We are in continuity with those disciples spoken to at the end of Matthew’s gospel – he is with us. We can never let slip from our minds that he is with us always and is utterly faithful.
The greeting ‘The Lord be with you’ is said four times during the course of the Mass: at the beginning, before the Gospel, before the Eucharistic Prayer and at the Dismissal. These are four crucial moments of the Mass. It is used at the beginning of Mass to bring before the reality that we are about to enter into – which climaxes in our encounter with Christ in word and Eucharist. Before the gospel to highlight the reality that we are about to listen to his word echoing down to us by means of the written gospels. Before the Eucharistic Prayer as we are about to join him in his handing over of himself to the Father for our deliverance from evil and death. Before the Dismissal as we are about to go forth from the gathering of God’s People to be his witnesses wherever we may be in our lives.
“The Lord be with us” is a great simple prayer that we can use day by day as we live out our lives.
Main Image: Anthony Family
By Frank O’Loughlin