“Listen to Him”: The Holy Preaching of Jesus – Pastor’s Reflection (January 10, 2016)
In this second epiphany, or manifestation of the Lord, the Father not only identifies Jesus as His beloved Son, but commissions Him to preach by telling us to listen to Him. Here begins the public ministry by which, in words and deeds, Jesus will make clear the intent of God regarding us. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ, the new Moses, will show us God’s purpose to make His Law an unceasing dynamo of change in our hearts. All of His healings will go beneath the surface of people corroborating this plan to make them loving and living worshippers of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All of this ministry will have credibility because that life with God to which He summons us already exist in Him. This love becomes palpable on the Cross, by which that life and love in Him comes to be in us. Thus, Jesus is His own preaching, and His words and deeds clarifies the impression He gives to the eyes of faith, even as a wordless infant.
His continuing ministry will be clear this Sunday at St. Catherine’s when men and women declare themselves for receiving the sacraments at Easter. I hope it will be palpable next weekend when the St. Catherine’s community takes a close look at its finances.
As I write you these lines I prepare to do a week of retreat preaching for our Dominican Sisters in Nashville. Such a privileged time as retreat serves to disclose what the Lord wants to say to the listeners, and to the speaker. Its greatest gift comes in the particular epiphany of Intimacy with Christ.
Throughout my time in New York I have tried to preach one retreat a year as I think it promotes my own spiritual development which I hope benefits you.
Always we seek to carry preaching beyond the bounds of the Sunday Homily. Thus in Parish Study we usually explore a biblical text or church document in depth. Another preaching people often seek is the overview. They express a desire to go deeper with their faith, or to reconnect with it after having been away from its practice for some time. To meet this need we offer the series entitled “Upper Room” after the place where Jesus disclosed his Eucharistic identity at the Last Supper and assembled His Apostles and His Mother to await the Holy Spirit. We begin this program each January and continue with it until the Day of Pentecost, which falls this year on May 15. Our textbook is the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer, whose singular iconography captures so much of the Gospel. For adult Catholics who complete this program I am able to offer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Pentecost. If you would be interested in this program, please know that we will begin to meet this year on January 24 at 4PM, at St. Vincent’s. It would be helpful if you would call Rachel Miller at (212) 744-2080 to let us know. If you do not get the chance to make the call, come anyway.
An essential eloquence of Jesus’ preaching in this parish is the involvement of lay people in its liturgical ministry as readers and as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. This winter we will sponsor retreats for both groups, so that we can offer spiritual support, practical formation, and a formal re-commissioning. This work will provide another bond of unity in the new parish. The retreat for Lectors will be on January 30, and that for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion will be on February 20. Please hold these Saturday Mornings as they apply.
I hope that this weekend you will welcome the young preachers from the House of Studies as they come to ask for your support. Theirs is a good cause, and a real financial need. For all of us, these young men are the future. Please encourage them if you can.
May your winter pass swiftly!