Misericordia et Misera 6: Encountering the Word

john-8Follow this link for the full document, Misericordia et Misera. In the sixth section of his apostolic letter, Pope Francis cites two Vatican II documents in writing of the importance of the Word of God. For you liturgy geeks, Sunday’s important:

6. In this context, hearing the word of God takes on particular significance. Each Sunday, God’s word is proclaimed in the Christian community so that the Lord’s Day may be illuminated by the paschal mystery.[Sacrosanctum Concilium, 106] In the Eucharistic celebration, we seem to witness a true dialogue between God and his people. In the biblical readings, we retrace the history of our salvation through the proclamation of God’s tireless work of mercy. The Lord continues to speak to us today as to friends; he dwells in our midst,[Dei Verbum 2] in order to accompany us and show us the path of life. His word gives a voice to our inmost needs and worries, and offers a fruitful response, so that we can concretely experience his closeness to us.

This last sentence above is essential. Assisting people to find the human impulse in the Scriptures is essential. It’s not so much about a sense of “relevance.” It’s more our belief that Christ’s voice speaks in the Scriptures. He became a human being to associate with the human condition and experience all that we experience. Therefore, we should be able to find him and ourselves in the closeness of the Word.

Advice for the preacher:

Hence the importance of the homily, in which “truth goes hand in hand with beauty and goodness”[Evangelii Gaudium 142] so that the hearts of believers may thrill before the grandeur of mercy! I strongly encourage that great care be given to preparing the homily and to preaching in general. A priest’s preaching will be fruitful to the extent that he himself has experienced the merciful goodness of the Lord. Communicating the certainty that God loves us is not an exercise in rhetoric, but a condition for the credibility of one’s priesthood. The personal experience of mercy is the best way to make it a true message of consolation and conversion in the pastoral ministry. Both homiletics and catechesis need to be sustained by this pulsing heart of the Christian life.

So … how do we rate? Your preachers and catechists, certainly. As music directors, do we hold ourselves accountable in the same way?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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