BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE

It is one thing to preach the Word of God and another thing to live according to the Word of God. An authentic servant of God not only preaches but lives according to the life-giving principles he or she preaches. He or she is simply a witness! May we, the ministers of the Gospel, helped by the grace of the God of the Gospel, open our minds and hearts to always follow the light of the Gospel we bear; Amen.

The readings of today speak clearly and distinctly to priests and by extension to all those who by special calling have received from God the vocation to the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the sacred mysteries of our faith. In the First Reading (Mal 1:14-2:2, 8-10) God speaks blatantly to us priests even to the extent of saying that “I will curse your very blessing.” I can’t think of a harsher word that could be said to a priest. In the Gospel, speaking against the attitudes of the scribes and Pharisees, this time speaking by Himself and not through the mouth of a prophet, said “you must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do.”

It is an honour to be called by God to the duty of the celebration of the sacred mysteries and the proclamation of the Gospel through the diverse means through which God, in and outside the visible confines of the Church, reaches to all nations, for no one takes this honour upon himself (Heb 5:4). But still yet, it is most honourable, not just to the Word of God and the Sacred Mysteries, but also to the God that called us, to correspond our lives after the pattern of the Gospel we carry. A true minister of the Gospel and of the Sacraments is not just full of words, but also of actions inspired by those words.

There was one definition of truth according to Saint Thomas Aquinas that caught my interest years back. That truth is “adaequatio rei et intellectus” which is translated as “the correspondence of the mind to reality.” This simply means that something is true when what is in the mind corresponds to what is real. When the contrary is the case, it is said to be false.

The Word of God uses a similar imagery to clearly establish the necessary link that must exist between preachers, the Word of God preached and the life lived. This link is witnessing. A witness is one who not only preaches, but makes what he or she preaches the guiding principles of his life; he or she lives what he preaches. This is the longing of the modern mind for truly “modern man and woman listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers and preachers, and if they do listen to teachers and preachers, it is because they are witnesses.”

The Second Reading (I Thess 2:7-9, 13) is a lucid testimony of Saint Paul who remains a concrete example in this regard. Any preacher that cannot boldly assert like Saint Paul “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (I Cor 11:1) must personally assess his or her motive as an agent for the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries of our faith. “Through your precepts Lord we get understanding, therefore we hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Ps 119:104-105). May Your ministers continue to honour You, not only by their words but also by their style of life; Amen.

Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE

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