The high point of the Liturgy of the Word at Mass is the reading of a passage from one of the four Gospels. The word “Gospel” comes from an old English construction, “God’s Spiel” (literally, “God’s Story”), and surely one of the most wonderful things about the Gospels is how they inform us in a “story form,” a narrative form that’s really pretty understandable even for people with little formal training in interpreting Scripture.
The Latin word for Gospel is evangelium, which comes from an even older Greek word which means “Good News.” I think it’s nice to know that, since it points to the subject-matter of God’s Story: the great news that Jesus Christ our Lord has brought us salvation from sin and death, and how He did it.
Of course, this “Good News Story of God” won’t be of help to anyone if it’s not heard. Mass isn’t nap time or daydream time, after all! I really wish all hearers would do like the homilists: start reading over – even saying out loud – the Bible readings for each Sunday during the preceding week. Let this special story and the points it makes sort of become a constant prayer- and thought-theme for a few days before it’s proclaimed solemnly in Church. The Sunday Gospel is richer if you don’t wait ’til Sunday to hear it!