“Don’t worry about what you are to say.”
Matthew 10: 19
In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns His disciples about the costs of discipleship – persecution, marginalization, and more.
One section of the discourse, verses 19-20, struck me.
“When you are arrested, do not worry about what you are to say and how you are to say it; when the hour comes, you will be given what you are to say. For it is not you who speak; but it will be the Spirit of the Father in you.”
I know a lot of preachers and teachers who improvise a lot. I also have had to improvise a number of times, but I was not under arrest and so I cannot claim to have been inspired in those cases.
In fact, I generally dislike improvised homilies – since they often ramble.
But something has happened to me here in Honduras.
I am sure that many times I murder the language, but when I am facilitating a workshop I often feel a sense of being inspired and take chances. I sometimes feel that I am not doing this of myself but that the what and the how of saying things has come to me as a gift.
Last month during a workshop on the catechumenate with catechists, most of whom have 6 years of formal education or less, I decided to improvise a discussion of a person thinking about getting baptized with one of the catechists. Estela was excellent and revealed a deep sensitivity and welcoming of this “candidate” for acceptance into the catechumenate, the Catholic Church’s process leading to baptism and acceptance into the People of God.
I was inspired to do this in the middle of the workshop. I had not planned it. I think the idea came from the Spirit but was mediated by the faith of the people I encountered there. Their spirit of commitment and Estela’s willingness to share were signs of the Spirit. It was an inspiring dialogue.
What made this different I believe is the confidence and faith I recognized in the people that helped what looks like a mere improvisation become a situation where the Spirit of God spoke through us.
I pray that God continues to bless me with inspiration and free me from any long-winded improvisation that doesn’t get to the point and help us live as the People of God.