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ON PREACHING

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught us that the true shepherd as a teacher should lead the faithful into goodpasture known to be most fitting-feeding them with the word of God. The act of feeding and guiding God’s people with His word is the testimony of the love one has to God and to his neighbor. But “refusing to feed the flock of God is found guilty of having no love for the supreme Shepherd”.

To be able in this task, first and foremost, a shepherd  should be cautioned of not forgetting to equip, studying and satisfying themselves with the word of God lest they will deprive themselves of the bread of righteousness. This why St Paul strongly advise shepherds, saying “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”[1].  A preacher always with the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and by heeding and contemplating on the Church fathers lessons must devote himself in meditation and sacred study of the Word of God to gain wisdom and insight in fulfilling his office. 

As a general rule, a shepherd's life should always outshine that of his flocks. He must retain the life of righteousness.  If a preacher doesn’t confess or take the holy communion, how on earth would he be comfortable in leading the laity to God? He should learn to teach them by the example of what he preached. This is why a preacher should investigate or meditate the way they live least "the very word that they preach, they impugn by their habits". Because as the flock, so too the Lord, follow them off the pew and would find them hypocrites like the Pharisees and become an obstacle to those who strive to enter the kingdom of heaven.  A preacher's voice penetrates the heart of his hearers than more readily if his way of life commands what he says. 

A preacher should know well and understand the characteristics, needs, and life of the audience he ought to teach. “Every teacher, in order to edify all in the one virtue of love, must touch the heart of his hearer by using one and the same doctrine, but not by giving to all one and the same exhortation”.   This means that the preacher should not only devote themselves to studying things that matter internally/ spiritually but also include into consideration the physical needs of his audience.

A preacher should be authentically a caring soul. The congregation would reject the word of the preacher unless they know he cares about them deeply. "Doctrine does not penetrate the mind of the needy if the hand of compassion does not come to command it to the soul. But the seed of the Word does grow well when the kindness of the preacher waters it in the heart of his audience".

Teachers who are called "Sowers of words" need to prepare and have a contemplation time ahead on what they preach with caution to avoid giving the wrong message or “offering the right word too frequently, unprofessionally, carelessly". Otherwise, they may strike the heart of their audience with the wound of errors.

“If a teacher himself goes astray and teaches different teaching that undermines what was revealed in the teaching of the Church, do not listen to him. However, if his teaching contributes to righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, welcome him as you would the Lord”[2].   

 

[1] 1 Tim 5:8

[2] Didache

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