Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sermon Notes: Hard to Preach

Reflection for 6:30 pm Mass
St. Vincent de Paul Parish
Tuesday II Week of Lent
March 18, 2014

Hard to preach: It is hard to preach on a gospel passage that is clearly intended more for the preacher, than for the congregation. “Do and observe whatever they tell you,” Jesus says, “but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice” (Matt 23:3). Indeed, the first precept of preaching is that one must always preach first to himself. Particularly in light of recent history in the Church, this admonition by Christ of His priests, His servants is felt deeply.

The Priest, His servant: Servants, this is precisely what the priest is to be for God’s people. “The greatest among you,” Jesus concludes, “must be your servant” (Matt 23:11). This is the familiar lesson we learn on Holy Thursday. On that day in a profoundly symbolic act, the priest, like Christ, humbles himself, taking off his outer garment (the chasuble), bending over, and washing the feet of the people. This is a great reminder for the priest and those who aspire to be so one day, that in order to hear Jesus say, “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matt 25:21), we must first hear Him say “whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matt 23:12).

The Sheep: In this light, I must say how much you, the faithful of this parish, inspire us seminarians and priests. We are asked to lead you, yet often times we struggle to keep up. The number of souls who keep these two priests captive in the confessional; the number of families, couples, and singles who come to mass at ridiculous hours in the morning; the number of volunteers willing to do move boxes, gather donations, and teach the young ones; the number of individuals who give of their money so generously; the number of people praying long before and after mass is over; and the great sacrifices so many of you are willing to undergo out of love for spouses, children, friends, and this parish. Yes, we can always do more. But you need to hear today from us: Good job. Keep going. Thank you.  

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