Volume II - Worship

The Divine Liturgy

Gospel

A reading from one or more of the four Christian Gospels follows the reading of the epistle at the Divine Liturgy. In between these two proclamations of the Word of God, Alleluia is solemnly chanted, once more interspersed by verses from the Psalms. At this time incense is also offered, with the incensing of the Gospel Book, the icons, the reader and all of the people.

The Alleluia and the incensing at this moment in the Divine Liturgy signify the very presence of God with his People, teaching them himself through Christ the Word and the Holy Spirit. (John 6:45) God is with men in the Church, revealing himself and his Holy Will to the world. The Gospel is God’s glad tidings of salvation, his official good news to mankind. It contains and proclaims his presence and his power among men.

The proclamation of the Gospel in the Church is a sacramental act. It is a form of man’s communion with God. It is an element of the liturgical mystery in and through which God is united with his People, and his People with him.

Just as for the epistle readings, there are prescribed readings from the Gospels for each liturgical day of the year, as well as special readings for particular Church celebrations. Thus, once more, there may be several different readings from the Gospels at any given Divine Liturgy.

Following the proclamation of the Word of God through the words of the Holy Gospel, a liturgical sermon or homily is preached. The sermon normally proclaims, and not seldom explains, the significance of the Divine Word received at the particular liturgy for the life of the People of God ‘and the destiny of the world. In Orthodox Tradition, the sermon is an essential part of the eucharistic liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.