Throughout his career and especially during Holy Week Jesus has keen insight into events (such as his betrayal in today’s Gospel). When people heard him preach they marveled, "Where did he get all this?" Today’s servant song gives us a clue, "Morning after morning God opens my ear that I may hear." St. Paul of the Cross called this "impressions." This reality is the secret behind preaching and wisdom in life. I call this spiritual reality being led by the Holy Spirit.
I once discussed this verse with my preaching teacher at our theologate at Catholic Theological Union. I talked about these inspirations as a crucial key to preaching as well as life in general. She (a Dominican nun) remembered our conversations and gave me a gift when I graduated. It was a framed lithograph that said, "Morning after morning God wakens my ear that I may hear."
It is God who gives a well trained tongue. Formation, learning and experience sharpen the gift. God is the one who gives us insight into how to rouse those who are "weary." Today, people are weary. The Bishops’ document Fulfilled in your hearing tells us, when it comes to preaching, that we must start with the assembly. People are tired of low interest rates, joblessness, being betrayed by the stock market as well as dealing with many relationship and personal sufferings.
Perhaps the biggest critique on Catholic preaching today is that it is not relevant. God opens our ears to listen to our culture and most of all what our people are going through. Preaching is like medicine that anoints peoples’ wounds. Jesus used the medium of story and parable to capture his hearers’ attention and make them think. Today’s preaching must include personal witness as well, an authority that flows from God.
As Passionists we have a rich tradition of reaching the weary through preaching. Day after day God inspires us to reach out to the weary efficaciously. As we journey through Holy Week with Jesus, we watch and learn from the Master. We marvel at his wisdom and see the secret of his success. "The Lord God is my help."
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 12 books and creator of the TV program Live with Passion! airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/