2 Corinthians 1:1-7
I remember back in 1994 I was invited to preach a mission at a large parish in Jacksonville, FL. I decided to do something daring to introduce the mission. I memorized the Gospel and proclaimed it out front from memory. I thought that would get their attention. It did. The Gospel that Sunday was the same as today, the beatitudes. When I interpreted it, I took the liberty of "personalizing" it. Instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" I changed it to "Blessed are you who are poor in spirit…Blessed are you who mourn, etc. All the while I walked and looked right into their eyes. This was one of the most thrilling moments of my ministry and I had goosebumps the entire time. I sensed such a connection with those who were poor, mourning, and hurting. This Gospel not only connects but ministers hope and new possibilities. I didn’t even need to preach that day. The proclaimed Gospel said it all.
Paul also talks about sufferings, afflictions and encouragement in the first reading. He connects with those who are going through something by identifying with them. I make my living in ministry by sharing my story through preaching and writing. I openly share my brokenness, sufferings, trials and tragedies so I can connect with others and help them find hope in their hardships. In the Scriptures, trials, tragedies, afflictions and troubles don’t have the final word. God does. Therefore we hear the word "blessed" in both readings. No matter the difficulty, God is there to encourage, bless and bring good out of any situation. For me, a major part of ministry is connecting with the hurting and ministering the balm of hope.
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/