The liturgy of the Word is the point in the liturgy when God calls us to faith. We believe God's Word is the living Word and not a history lesson or only a story about events that happened long ago. Through the proclamation of the Scriptures and the homily, God speaks to us as a community, asking us to be faithful to his word. Readings from Scripture are the heart of the liturgy of the word. The homily, responsorial songs, profession of faith, and general intercessions developed and complete it. In the readings, God speaks to his people and nourishes their spirit; Christ is present through his word. The homily explains the readings. The profession of faith comprise the people's acceptance of God's Word.
The Liturgy of the Word requires some silence to allow the Word of God to echo in our hearts. Silence is especially important after the proclamation of the Scripture readings and the preaching of the homily. The role of the assembly during the Liturgy of the Word is to actively listen to God's word as it is proclaimed through the readings. This is a difficult task that is mastered only with practice. It is different than listening to the television or the radio. It is more like listening as the pilot of an airlines listens to the control tower when there is some difficulty with landing the plane. Important things are at stake both on the airliner and in the liturgy.
The reading of the Gospel is the high point of the Liturgy of the Word. Everything in the liturgy so far - particularly the proclamation of the previous readings - is supposed to prepare the assembly for this moment. The gospel, along with the other biblical readings, is the living Word of God. The purpose of the homily is to help us better understand how our faith shapes the way we see the world and the way we act in the world. For this reason, the homily is not just a talk given during the liturgy. The homily is part of the liturgy itself. The homily serves as a bridge between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, showing us how we put the faith we have received into action.
[Source: Supplement, St. Paul Roman Catholic Cathedral, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; March, 2010]