Pope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium writes of “An ear to the people.” It’s not about preaching what people want to hear, but what they need. And of course, it’s certainly not about what preachers want to say, but what they need to say:
154. The preacher also needs to keep his ear to the people and to discover what it is that the faithful need to hear. A preacher has to contemplate the word, but he also has to contemplate his people. In this way he learns “of the aspirations, of riches and limitations, of ways of praying, of loving, of looking at life and the world, which distinguish this or that human gathering,” while paying attention “to actual people, to using their language, their signs and symbols, to answering the questions they ask”.[Evangelii Nuntiandi 63]
It’s not only about the life setting of the people, but also utilizing the Word to make connections with the “human situation.”
He needs to be able to link the message of a biblical text to a human situation, to an experience which cries out for the light of God’s word. This interest has nothing to do with shrewdness or calculation; it is profoundly religious and pastoral. Fundamentally it is a “spiritual sensitivity for reading God’s message in events”,[Evangelii Nuntiandi 43] and this is much more than simply finding something interesting to say.
In other words, it’s not about the cleverness or charisma of the preacher.
More from Pope Paul VI:
What we are looking for is “what the Lord has to say in this or that particular circumstance”.[Evangelii Nuntiandi 43] Preparation for preaching thus becomes an exercise in evangelical discernment, wherein we strive to recognize – in the light of the Spirit – “a call which God causes to resound in the historical situation itself. In this situation, and also through it, God calls the believer.”[JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992), 10]
Seeing anything worthy of comment?