Sunday, March 24, 2013

And How Can Men Preach Unless They Are Sent?

Homily Monday of Holy Week Year I 2013

Fr. Dale Matson

“But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" (romans 10:14-15)

I would take St. Paul’s narrative back an additional step. And how can they be sent unless they are first called? St. Paul states, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" He is quoting Isaiah. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (Isaiah 52:7). I have to laugh to myself whenever I see this verse. There is nothing beautiful about my feet. One of my marathon running friends once said to me that most runners have sandals with enclosed toes. This is to hide the black toenails from running so many miles in training on the trails in the woods. There is nothing beautiful about the feet of this 68 year old man.

Being called to preach the gospel is only one part of being a preacher. We are called to carry the word within us. We are tenders of the Word of God. We are asked to swallow the scroll and take it to the church. (Ezekiel 3) We are God’s ‘mules’ carrying within us God’s saving message.  We are bearers of the Word of God. We are also protectors of the Word. We man the watchtowers against those who would steal the truth, confuse the gullible, and manipulate others for their own purposes.

If someone gave me a vocational blank check and said that I could do anything I wanted, I would be a preacher. It is not just what I do. It is who I am. It is always who I have been. And that is the difference between being in a profession, having a professional identity, and a profession being in me. I am no longer a plumber, a psychologist, a professor. My life has always been that of a seeker; seeker of the truth; seeker of God; an advocate for those who are lost. I know the trail. I know the Way.
What a joy it is to be a servant of the Word. What a joy it is to pray the Eucharistic Prayer which is pure Gospel. No wonder the AMEN is in all capital letters. Holy Week is the church season compressed into a single week. It begins with the triumphal entry of Christ the King followed by His sacrificial offering of Himself for our sake. Christ loved us to death. Holy Week is the inevitable march toward the cross on Friday. The feast of the Annunciation is also today. How ironic that Christ would be conceived and eventually die the same week. He was sent from the Father. We preachers are sent by Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our words have efficacy because they are from God. Our mortal bodies are an incarnational Ark. In us, we bear the Gospel that has been entrusted to us by God. May we ever remain faithful to our call and subject to His word. Amen


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