TUESDAY HOMILY: Coherence in Preaching and Living God's Word
are called to transmit not just the law of Moses, given by God to the Jewish people, but the law of Jesus Christ, given by God to the whole human race.
So much did Jesus identify with them as his messengers that, before he sent them out to preach, he said, "Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me" (Lk 10:16). So Jesus is clearly saying to everyone in the Church relative to Pope Benedict and his successor, to bishops and priests, "Insofar as they sit on my chair or stand in my pulpit, 'do whatever they teach you and follow it,' for it is not just they speaking, but I speaking through them."
Jesus wants all of us to receive the word just like the Thessalonians received St. Paul's preaching, "not as a human word but as what it really is, God's word, which is also at work in you believers." So, too, the word that our Holy Father or our bishop or our parish priest passes on is not to be accepted as merely a "human word," but "as it really is," God's word at work in the heart of believers.
As Pope Benedict concludes his Pontificate, we can be grateful that so many responded to his profound and clear teaching not just as the word of a super-intelligent German intellectual but as it is really is, God's word, announced through Christ's earthly vicar and ambassador, and that it did so much work in the heart of believers.
At the same time, however, there's another truth in today's Gospel that, while thankfully it doesn't apply to Pope Benedict, we need to acknowledge with regard to some in the Church who aren't as faithful as Pope Benedict was to living coherently with Christ's words.
Just as Jesus 2000 years ago didn't stop with a simple affirmation of the divine provenance of his preachers' words, so today too Jesus, with great pain, likely would say about some of the clergy and faithful he has chosen and sent out, "But do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach."
There have certainly been popes, bishops, priests, professors, parents, catechists and others who, like the scribes and Pharisees, have failed to live the word they preach to others. There are certainly "evangelizers" today who burden others with the word, without showing them how it leads them to love God and others.
There are preachers whose knowledge of the word has made them proud rather than holy. There are Christians whose example not only should not be imitated, but should be castigated. In recent years, we have seen the names of bishops, priests, Catholic politicians, celebrities, judges, teachers, and parents who likewise have not put into practice the faith they profess.
But there's even a greater evil that spiritual parents, teachers and guides can do. Jesus didn't even mention it in today's Gospel, because, despite their defects, the scribes and the Pharisees reverenced the word of God so much that they never would have committed this evil. They may have misunderstood God's word, but they would never have tried to change it, or ignore it, or lie about it.
But it was not always that way. In the time after the exile, many priests were teaching contrary to God's Law. God sent the prophet Malachi to them, saying, "You have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching." Their teaching was not based on the inerrant word of God, but on their own opinions or half-truths. They were not living according to the Word of God and their immoral behavior started to alter their preaching so that they began to preach the same untruths they practiced.
The same thing that happened after the exile happens in our own day. Very often Catholics come to me with questions, bewildered because a priest or deacon in the pulpit, or a Catholic professor in an article, or a prominent Catholic in public life or in their family said something that was completely different than what they had learned growing up. I could cite hundreds of examples of these false instructions, but here are some of the most common ones:
Jesus didn't really work miracles; Scripture really isn't the word of God, but the word of men; you don't have to follow the teachings of the Pope and the bishops, just your conscience; the Eucharist is not really Jesus' body and blood, just a symbol; it's no longer necessary to go to confession; it's not a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday and when we do voluntarily, of course we can receive Holy Communion the next time we go; sex outside of marriage, or contraceptive use in marriage, aren't wrong as long as people love each other; Hell doesn't exist and if it did, God wouldn't really allow anyone to go there because he loves us; the Church's teachings on marriage are homophobic and immoral, discriminating against those of the same-sex; the Church has no good reason not to ordain women as priests; it's possible to be a good Catholic and be ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: year of fatih, lent, Fr. Roger J. Landry, daily homilies
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