Fr Kevin Neal
Ruth Ryan is not the bright and knowing person that she once was. As I write, she is quietly getting ready to lay down her burden. Ruth is a terrific parishioner in so many ways a in these last days, as they say, she isn’t as young as she used to be.
My memory of Ruth is best served when I think of her in the 1990s when I came to this parish as a deacon. What I remember most about her was that she could proclaim the readings.
I remember sitting with the congregation at Sunday Mass when Ruth picked up the lectionary and it came alive in her hands. I was spellbound. She gave the words meaning.
As a teacher I had taught reading skills, but it was much more than that. It wasn’t the inflection of her voice. Sure, that was good, but it was much more than that, too.
She had a way of giving life to the words. There was no great rabble rousing and no special raising of the voice. She just took the scripture in her hands and it took wings.
She obviously loved God’s words so much and they just spilled over like a wave for all to hear. I suspect that we all heard the words quite differently, too. There was something personal in the words that she spoke.
The good thing about Ruth, and the thousands of others who, like her, have spoken the word with such devotion, is that this gift is for anyone who stands in front of the assembly. They can fill us all as we speak the word of God.
Many are too frightened to proclaim God‘s word and others worry about what people will think, but they can be like Ruth Ryan, too. Just stand up and proclaim the word. There is a wonderful line of scripture which say ‘God inhabits the praises of his people’ (Psalm 22:3). We could claim this gift and who knows what would happen.
Something in me leaps for joy when people have the chance to proclaim scripture for the first time. The words come alive in yet another voice.
The lector will have reflected on the words and will bring their own meaning to them.
The wider message is always the same but there is a meaning that each person brings, too.
It is a wonderful gift.