On Prayer and Preaching

Preparing a Sunday homily firstly involves a clear understanding of the text of scripture . You can’t begin a homily looking first for a joke or an anecdote even though our flock often seek ‘practical homilies’. There is nothing more practical than the Gospels. The fact is that they are not broken down for us.

The first reading of this Sunday is a warning to all preachers ( Jeremiah 23:1-6) “ woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture.” This Sunday, Jesus looks at the crowd and has compassion for they were like “sheep without a shepherd”. His first reaction to the crowd that seemed woefully lost was not to be a social worker ; He TEACHES them first and in doing so he nourishes their souls ( verse 34) it is then that he feeds their bodies ( miracle of the 5000). Our flock needs to be fed with the Word of God and not merely told bed time stories even if that is the popular thing to do .

But Jesus has something for the hard working preacher as he does for the laity. He does not want us to be so immersed in work that we don’t rest with HIM. The apostles GATHERED around Jesus ( that’s the beginning of prayer). They began (as we do in prayer ) telling him all that they did and taught. Then comes the second part of prayer, when we listen to Jesus . Jesus now spoke to them and in this case offered practical advice “ come to a deserted place and rest “

This Sunday’s Gospel is not some spiritual lotion, smoky prayer or healing bath. It’s clear practical advice on where we can find rest .

Fr Warner D’souza
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