FIYH 13: Representation

Preaching from Catholic pulpits is soft, some critics suggest, full of warm fuzzies and inanities. The bishops were aware of an undercurrent of concern and affliction that ties down believers, as opposed to a certain cultural ethic seducing people with a false freedom.

Through the years most preachers I know are willing to nudge their people, but they all concede many of the ones they interact with the most are quite troubled and in need of that word of acceptance and love.

[13] The preacher represents this community by voicing its concerns, by naming its demons, and thus enabling it to gain some understanding and control of the evil which afflicts it. He represents the Lord by offering the community another word, a word of healing and pardon, of acceptance and love. Like humans everywhere, the people who make up the liturgical assembly are people hungry, sometimes desperately so, for meaning in their lives. For a time they may find meaning in their jobs, their families and friends, their political or social causes. All these concerns, good and valid as they are, fall short of providing ultimate meaning. Without ultimate meaning, we are ultimately unsatisfied. If we are able to hear a word which gives our lives another level of meaning, which interprets them in relation to God, then our response is to turn to this source of meaning in an attitude of praise and thanksgiving.

Preaching that understanding word isn’t the end, of course. The preacher must develop that kindly word through the relationship with God.

(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to FIYH 13: Representation

  1. Liam says:

    I would caution that it is extraordinarily easy for such acceptance and love to be expressed in a banal way that is worse than not having it at all.

    To avoid banality, the darkness must be named with non-banal specificity. The Light that we glorify on Christmas morning is most deeply appreciated agains the very specific darknesses against it is set.

    Another problem is the tendency to substitute the cultivation of virtue for theosis. And by “cultivation of virtue” I don’t only mean the stereotypical preconciliar obession of some with the checklists of moral examena, but also include its well-intentioned progressive shadow manifest in the Social Gospel movement where being a Christian is all about [insert your peace and justice goal here]. Which merely goes to show how seductive it is to settle for the cultivation of virtue.

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