Some notes on preaching God’s word

HINTS AND TRACES - Fr. Roy Cimagala - The Freeman

The readings of the Mass on Wednesday of the fourth week of Easter (cfr. Acts 12,24-13,5; Jn 12,44-50) somehow remind us of the need to spread the word of God, which is another way of saying that we have to make God not only known but also loved and pursued to such an extent that we truly become children of his, sharers of his life and nature, as God wants us to be.

In the first reading, we see how the early disciples of Christ started to go around to preach about Christ. In the responsorial psalm, we are made to realize that we have to the desire to let God be praised by all the nations. And in the gospel, Christ made it clear that he was and is the one who will lead us to God. In other words, he is the very Word of God. We need to listen to him, follow him and, in fact, identify ourselves with him.

Toward this end we need to realize that in making Christ known and loved, we have to transmit as faithfully as possible this very Word of God. This can be done in many ways, but an important way is that of preaching God’s Word.

Preaching the Word of God is a task entrusted to his apostles and shared by all of us in different ways. The clergy, of course, takes 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)

We need to see to it that in preaching God’s word, while we have to adapt it to the way and the conditions of the people, we truly manage to transmit Christ’s true message to us. In this regard, we have to realize that Christ’s true message, while full of love and tenderness, will always involve suffering and sacrifice. He even spelled it out clearly when he said that if we want to follow him, we need to deny ourselves and carry the cross.

We have to be wary of just making feel-good memes and messages while neglecting the indispensable role of suffering and sacrifice in our life. When we preach, let’s find a way, guided always by our faith, of making suffering and sacrifice attractive to everyone.

And that can only take place if we know how to relate our unavoidable suffering and sacrifices to the redemptive passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. We have to encourage everyone to have a theological and Christ-like attitude to any suffering and sacrifice we have to make in this life.

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