Preaching God’s living word PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 December 2015 14:18

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

Prreaching the Word of God is a task entrusted to his apostles and shared by all of us in different ways. The clergy take a leading role in this affair. It’s a serious business that involves our whole being, and not just our talents and powers.

First we need to examine our understanding and attitude toward God’s word, especially the Gospel. On this basic understanding would depend what we do with the Gospel and how we handle it.

Do we really know the true nature of the Gospel? Or do we take it as just one more book, perhaps with certain importance, but definitely not as the living word of God, in spite of its human dimensions?

The Gospel is actually the proclamation of Christ as the Emmanuel, that is, God with us. This is an on-going affair that did not stop with the death of Christ. Christ lives with us up to now, and continues to do things with us.

All these affirmations are captured in the last lines of the Gospel of St. Matthew where our Lord said:

“Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them….

And behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.” (28,19-20)

Our Catechism tells us that “We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church” (521)

Obviously, to carry out this mission, we need to know our Lord and his teachings. We have to go to him and read the Gospel.

Reading and meditating on it should be a regular practice for us, a habit meant to keep us in touch with him.

Thus, every time we read the Gospel, we have to understand by our faith that we are engaging with our Lord in an actual and living way. We are listening to him, and somehow seeing him. We can use our imagination to make ourselves as one more character in any scene depicted by the Gospel.

For this, we need to look for the appropriate time and place. We have to be wary of our tendency to be dominated by a lifestyle of activism and pragmatism that would blunt our need for recollection and immersion in the life of Christ.

The drama of Christ’s life here on earth has to continue in our own life. Thus, we need to continually conform our mind and heart to the Gospel, an affair that demands everything from us.

Our problem is that the Gospel has ceased to be what it ought to be to many people. It has been downgraded as one more book among many others that we have. And worse, since it does not give us immediate practical knowledge, many of us give it low priority.

For us priests, especially, we need to internalize it, not in the way an actor internalizes his script. We internalize it by making it the very life of our mind and heart, the very impulse of our emotion and passions. It should be the soul of our whole life.

Thus, when we preach we cannot help but somehow showcase the drama inside our heart, giving others a glimpse of how our heart is actually taking, handling and delivering the word of God.

Preaching should reflect the condition of our heart as it grapples with the living word of God. It should not just be a matter of declaiming or orating, reduced to the art of speaking and stage performing, a mere play of our talents.

Neither should it be just a display of our intellectual prowess or our cultural wealth. It should manage to show the actual living faith and love our heart has for God’s word, how our heart is receiving it and reacting to it.

Thus, preaching is a matter of how effectively we manage to show and teach Christ to the others. It’s never about us, the preachers. Rather, it can be about us in our effort to bring Christ to the others. Its success or failure depends solely on this.

St. John Mary Vianney, patron for priests, is an example of an excellent preacher. Though not very gifted intellectually and humanly, he managed to preach well because his heart burned with great love for Christ.

That love led him to an amazing eloquence, full of common and supernatural sense, that attracted all kinds of people, even the most sophisticated and complicated ones.

We need to learn to preach from a heart immersed in Christ!