Summary: We must always understand that we are weak and prone to sin and laziness. We must always ask to be filled with the spirit of Jesus, so that He can work through us.
Thursday of 20th Week in Course
The beginning of the first letter to the church at Corinth is a little misleading, because Paul is thanking God for the grace shown in that church. He talks about how the Corinthians have been “enriched in him with all speech and knowledge,” and says that they lack “no spiritual gift.” But remember that healing is effected with a lot of oil and a little vinegar, not the opposite. Later on Paul will be fussing at the same people for their lack of discernment of evil and their lack of charity in their fraternal meals.
Jesus has a similar approach–he promises a great reward to those who are watchful and who mind the Master’s property–the church. But he warns those who abuse their power and authority that the Master is coming at an unexpected time, and will severely punish them.
The Holy Father, speaking to preachers and really to all who are called to evangelism, that is, all of us, continues in a similar vein: ‘Jesus was angered by those supposed teachers who demanded much of others, teaching God’s word but without being enlightened by it: “They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves will not lift a finger to move them” (Mt 23:4). The apostle James exhorted: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (Jas 3:1). Whoever wants to preach must be the first to let the word of God move him deeply and become incarnate in his daily life. In this way preaching will consist in that activity, so intense and fruitful, which is “communicating to others what one has contemplated”. For all these reasons, before preparing what we will actually say when preaching, we need to let ourselves be penetrated by that word which will also penetrate others, for it is a living and active word, like a sword “which pierces to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). This has great pastoral importance. Today too, people prefer to listen to witnesses: they “thirst for authenticity” and “call for evangelizers to speak of a God whom they themselves know and are familiar with, as if they were seeing him”.
‘We are not asked to be flawless, but to keep growing and wanting to grow as we advance along the path of the Gospel; our arms must never grow slack. What is essential is that the preacher be certain that God loves him, that Jesus Christ has saved him and that his love always has the last word. Encountering such beauty, he will often feel that his life does not glorify God as it should, and he will sincerely desire to respond more fully to so great a love. Yet if he does not take time to hear God’s word with an open heart, if he does not allow it to touch his life, to challenge him, to impel him, and if he does not devote time to pray with that word, then he will indeed be a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow impostor. But by acknowledging his poverty and desiring to grow in his commitment, he will always be able to abandon himself to Christ, saying in the words of Peter: “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you” (Acts 3:6). The Lord wants to make use of us as living, free and creative beings who let his word enter their own hearts before then passing it on to others. Christ’s message must truly penetrate and possess the preacher, not just intellectually but in his entire being. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the word, “today, just as at the beginning of the Church, acts in every evangelizer who allows himself to be possessed and led by him. The Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself”’
This is the attitude of an evangelical Catholic, or an evangelizing Catholic. We must always understand that we are weak and prone to sin and laziness. We must always ask to be filled with the spirit of Jesus, so that He can work through us. Only then can we have any impact on the lives of those we serve.