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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.