Q: In the Mass after the first and the second reading we say “this is the Word of the Lord” but now we just say “the Word of the Lord” or “the Gospel of the Lord”. Please explain why we change that. Do you have any documents that talk about it?
A: The Bishops of the United States approved the change in November 1991, and the Vatican authorized it in March of 1992. You can find this in the Newsletter of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. The timing had to do with a revised edition of the lectionary for Mass, which was in development at the same time.
The acclamation is kept brief, apparently to evoke the mystery of the Word of God. It finds a parallel in the distribution of communion, when the minister says simply, “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ”—rather than “This is the Body of Christ” or “This is the Blood of Christ.” Another parallel is at the memorial acclamation, which used to carry the introduction, “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” but now more accurately is reduced to “The mystery of faith.” In each case the brief words acknowledge the presence of God in our midst, and they invite the people to make a verbal response.