How many times at Mass do we say and hear, “The Lord be with You?” How many times do we consider its meaning? And why is its meaning so intimately connected with the liturgies of The Word and The Eucharist?
The Mass is a moment of the divine plunked in the middle of the trivial, selfish, and often meaningless motions of the day. It is, itself, a reminder that God is with us and, therefore, a vehicle within which it is most apropos to not only remind others of this fact but to wish it for them and consider it in regards to ourselves. It runs like a thread through the Mass because it is not only what the Mass is about (God being with us) but also what our life on this planet is about.
At the beginning of Mass, before the penitential rite, the celebrant says “The Lord be with you.” It is a wish and also a statement that might be voiced as ‘The Lord is with you.’ We consider our faults and our failings only after we are reminded that God is with us. He loves us, forgives us, and remains with us.
Before the gospel we again hear, “The Lord be with you,” as if to prepare for hearing the word of God by reminding us that this another way He is with us.
At the beginning of the Liturgy of the Eucharist it is most fitting that these words are heard again. For most of us the Eucharist is the ultimate sign that God is with us. We bring ourselves to the celebration to be with God and to experience His being with us. God not only loves us, forgives us, teaches us, and guides us but gives Himself totally to us eternally through the body and blood of His Son.
Finally, at the end of Mass, it is heard one last time as the congregation is dismissed. The importance of this last one is that it reminds us that God is not just with us here but also for the rest of the day away from here, and that we might carry Him with us so that the Lord, through us, can be with others.