Preaching the Good News

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been using the letter to the Romans for my morning prayer. This morning’s passage contained the line, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!”

The context of Paul’s statement is that others can not believe in Jesus unless they hear the good news, meaning it is incumbent on all of us who have heard the good news to tell others about it.

The commentary to the passage in Romans and Galatians: A Devotional Commentary, edited by Leo Zanchettin, reminds us that our calling to preach the good news need not be viewed as a difficult task.

For some, that call might entail large, public proclamations. But for most of us, it lies in simple sharing among friends. We don’t have to convince, harangue, or scare people into believing the gospel. We have only to believe the message ourselves and tell it as we have experienced it. It needs no embellishment or exaggeration. Sometimes it doesn’t even need any words, only the witness of our changed lives.

Surely we are all capable of preaching the good news in some way.


Preaching the Gospel

In today’s reading from St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also.  For this purpose have I come.”  In the Mass reading the precedes the Gospel, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, “If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it!”

This is the task to which we have all been appointed as Christians: to preach the Gospel. In his Apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici, Pope John Paul II wrote:

The entire mission of the Church, then, is concentrated and manifested in evangelization. Through the winding passages of history the Church has made her way under the grace and the command of Jesus Christ: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” …and lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age”…. “To evangelize,” writes Paul VI, “is the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her most profound identity.”

This can, at times, be a challenging task. Our preaching will not always be heard. Our preaching will not always be welcomed. But, as St. Paul says, we “have been entrusted with a stewardship” and “woe to me if I do not preach it.”

We Are All Called to Be Preachers

After hearing me give a reflection on St. Martha on her feast day (which I plan to podcast as soon as my daughter – a/k/a technical adviser and podcast producer – gets back from camp), one of my friends said, “You should be a preacher.” One response is: I can’t be a preacher. I’m a woman and therefore can’t be a priest and therefore can’t preach.

But that takes an awfully narrow view of preaching. I think Sister Thea Bowman got is exactly right in saying:

“Now you know women can’t preach in the Catholic Church. But that’s not bothering me this morning. I can’t preach in the church. Women can’t preach in the Catholic church. But I can preach in the streets. I can preach in the neighborhood. I can preach in the home. I can preach and teach in the family. And it’s the preaching that’s done in the home that brings life and meaning to the Word your priest proclaims in his official ministry in the pulpit…

“Charles de Foucald once said that every Christian is called to shout the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ from the rooftops, not in words, but in life. We’re all called to preach, to shout the Good News by our lives. Never too young, never too old to share life, faith and love…”

We are all called to preach the Gospel. We do it in different venues: some from pulpits, some from the front of classrooms, some in a homeless shelter, some in the streets, some in the home. Anywhere and everywhere there are ears to hear we are called to preach the Gospel.

As a woman, I can spend my time lamenting that there places from which I can’t preach or I can preach where I can. Seems a pretty easy choice to me. I suspect St. Dominic, whose feast we celebrate today, and who founded the Order of Preachers, would agree.