Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Joy of the Gospel - 154

An ear to the people
154. The preacher also needs to keep his ear to the people and to discover what it is that the faithful need to hear. A preacher has to contemplate the word, but he also has to contemplate his people. In this way he learns “of the aspirations, of riches and limitations, of ways of praying, of loving, of looking at life and the world, which distinguish this or that human gathering,” while paying attention “to actual people, to using their language, their signs and symbols, to answering the questions they ask”.[120] He needs to be able to link the message of a biblical text to a human situation, to an experience which cries out for the light of God’s word. This interest has nothing to do with shrewdness or calculation; it is profoundly religious and pastoral. Fundamentally it is a “spiritual sensitivity for reading God’s message in events”,[121] and this is much more than simply finding something interesting to say. What we are looking for is “what the Lord has to say in this or that particular circumstance”.[122] Preparation for preaching thus becomes an exercise in evangelical discernment, wherein we strive to recognize – in the light of the Spirit – “a call which God causes to resound in the historical situation itself. In this situation, and also through it, God calls the believer”.[123]

[120] Ibid ., 63: AAS 68 (1976), 53

[121] Ibid ., 43: AAS 68 (1976), 33

[122] Ibid .

[123] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (25 March 1992), 10: AAS 84 (1992), 672.