Preaching from the heart

Saint Anthony of Padua was a marvelous preacher. At times so many people flocked to his sermons that he had to preach outside the church.

The reading for Vigils of the feast is from one of his sermons.

For Anthony preaching had to come from the Spirit of God in one’s heart.

Happy is the man whose words issue from the Holy Spirit and not from himself!

It must come from the heart, he advises his hearers. He warns against what we’d call plagiarism: You must not steal someone else’s words and present them as your own.

For some men speak as their own character dictates, but steal the words of others and present them as their own and claim credit for them.

But for him this is much more than plagiarism; these people really do not serve God or God’s people.

How to speak?

We should speak as the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of speech. Our humble and sincere request to the Sprit for ourselves should be that we bring the day of Pentecost to fulfillment, insofar as the Holy Spirit infuses us with His grace, by using our bodily sense in a perfect manner and by keeping the commandments.

Sometimes we reduce preaching to the words spoken by a priest or public speaker. But Pope Francis thinks otherwise.

“Preaching the Gospel” is central to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel. Preaching is a central part of our mission as disciples of Jesus. In paragraph 127, the pope writes:

Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.

Will we bring the love of Jesus to others – or merely mouth words, plagiarizing but not speaking from the heart of God?

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