Proclamation and dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 December 2015 14:28

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

This is both the task and the challenge of a good teacher. He has to know how to proclaim the truth about the subject he teaches. He has to dish out the pertinent data, information, and other trivia. But he also has to wage a continuing dialogue with all the relevant references of his job, so that his stock of knowledge would not grow idle, stagnant, if not dead.

A teacher who has been teaching the same subject in school for years has to make continuing research and study, and be sensitive to the developments of his field that these days are in a galloping state. He has to pay attention to the authorities and experts of his field, as well as to his students in their concrete situations and conditions. In a sense, he is like a mediator, a bridge.

In fact, if he has to stay afloat in his work or business, he has to continually find new frontiers. He should not be contented with what he already knows and has achieved. Though there are things that by their nature will stay permanent and unchangeable, he should not forget that there are also things that can and should change depending on the circumstances and developments.

In this regard, it might be relevant to cite some words of that Chinese business wonder by the name of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba:

“What I said on the occasion of our IPO last year when we raised US$25 billion bears repeating. What we earned was not money, but trust. Maintaining that trust means we must listen carefully to the views of others. It also means we must reflect on the challenges we have been communicating with our shareholders and the public.”

And this task of engaging in continuing dialogue with others is especially true when we have to preach the living word of God. We should not only proclaim it. Sooner or later, if we just contend ourselves with proclaiming it, we will realize that in spite of our best efforts at rhetoric and oratory, it will sound stale and meaningless, and our proclamation will just fall on deaf ears.

One has to make his preaching an occasion to dialogue vitally with God and with others. Otherwise, what is living and life-giving in it can freeze and become ineffective. When we notice that our preaching does not have some sensible impact on us and on others, we have good reason to suspect that our preaching has not been a dialogue with God and with others.

When our proclamation of God’s living word is also a dialogue with God and with others, there will always be some palpable effects, some transformation, some conversion. That’s because God’s word is always effective, as the Letter to the Hebrews says: “For the word of God is living and active…” (4,12)

We have to understand that this living word of God is both old and new, divine and human, supernatural and natural. It embraces both time and eternity. There are things in it that will never change, but also things that have to change and adapt to circumstances.

In the end, the word of God is his Son, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, who became man to save us. Christ is the Word, who is both God and man, the lone and perfect mediator between God and man.

That God became man and continues to be man in Christ can only speak of how God himself undertakes a continuing dialogue with man. His interventions and involvement in the life of man are constant and ongoing.

This is also the attitude we have to have when we preach God’s living word, or put in another way of saying it, when we preach Christ. We just have to keep on dialoguing with God and with others, to the point that we become like them somehow.

With God’s grace and with our utmost faith and generous efforts, we can achieve this ideal. The crucial point here is our effort to identify ourselves more and more with Christ. That’s because it’s only with him that we would be able not to get lost in our task of dialoguing and adapting ourselves to others, even as we proclaim God’s word.

And so, we need to find time always to have a very intimate prayer and conversation with God, meditating on his word, making it our own and applying to our condition at the moment and to that of the others.

This is always possible, since God’s word will always adapt to us in all our circumstances and situations.