Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Preaching Ministry!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Chapter nine of the Rule 1223 clearly manifests the mind of St. Francis of Assisi regarding the ministry of Preaching. The first two verses of the chapter describe who should be a ‘preacher’:  only those who are ‘appointed’ to preach.  During his time preaching in public could not be done by every one.  Only those who were qualified and appointed could preach.  Francis has included in the Rule this point, may be it was imposed upon him by the Church authorities or canonists of the time. Still, we should take note of it.  Presently it can mean that we cannot babble whatever we want from the pulpit.  Preaching demands preparation.  Some times ‘Capuchins’ are branded as ‘ex-tempore’ preachers.  This brand should go.  We need to take sufficient time to reflect study and meditate on the Word of God before we dare to open our mouth.

The second paragraph of the chapter he gives, first of all, the pedagogy of preaching:  that in preaching our “language be well considered and chaste”.  Why Francis is so concerned about the language of preaching and insists on it as to make it a norm for his progeny of followers? May be the language used by other preachers at that time was either controversial or too bombastic and flowery, as a result of which the spiritual impact of the preaching was lost. Francis knew that the language used during preaching could hurt the hearts of listeners.  He also knew that some times the preachers are too much preoccupied with moralizing and condemning the deeds of the wicked.  Hence the exhortation.    What we can learn from this exhortation is that our preaching should directly focus on the message.   He says that our language should be “chaste”: it should not contain controversies and negative references to persons.

 Secondly, Francis declares that all our preaching should be for the “benefit and edification” of people of God.  The preaching should inspire the hearers to make them reflect.  The purpose of all our preaching should be to touch the hearts. Jesus is the greatest model of our preaching He used the language of parables, the language understood by all people. But the message he communicated was thought provoking, direct and inspiring, compelling people to reflect further.

Coming to our times and to our context, presently the priestly ordination itself marks the appointment of the new priest as an officially appointed preacher.  We need not wait as in the age of St. Francis for a special appointment to exercise the ministry of preaching. What we need to ask ourselves is, whether we have taken seriously our appointment as preacher through our priestly ordination.  Of course we have to preach more through our life and may be less through our words.  But when we utter words they should emerge from the heart and correspond to our lives.  Inconsistency observed between our words and deeds will make our preaching ineffective.  We know how people evaluate us when we preach.  We all know that we can preach nowadays more through our life witness.  People yearn for witnesses.  Can I be a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the radical question we need to ask ourselves.

All of us can preach through our lives, namely, through our participation in the struggles of people, being at the side of sick and suffering, exploited and oppressed, humiliated and depressed.  We can preach through our commitment to our daily duties and responsibilities, faithfulness to our daily obligation to pray and work.  We can also preach through our literary works, scientific research,   and creative products like poetry, drama, musical works, and media engagements.

The message of Gospel is available to all of us.  Our concern should be to transmit it to others in and through the talents God has endowed us with.  Provided we are not distracted and engaged in negative activities what we do is our small contribution towards the proclamation and propagation of the kingdom of God, a task assigned to us by our Master Jesus Christ. We need to be inspired by the example of Francis of Assisi in the fulfillment of this task.
-         Fr. Vincent Gabriel Furtado, OFM Cap, ex/provincial Minister of Holy Trinity of his circular Message

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