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Monday, March 9, 2020

Preaching without Practicing

"For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them." Mt 23:2

Most of us preach from time to time, even if we don't intend to. Listen to someone go on about the invincibility of the New York Yankees or the foolishness of the Red Sox for trading Mookie Betts. Convinced there is only one right way to play the game, sports preachers will bore you for as long as you are able to take it, and unfortunately it is priests like me who can be the hardest preachers to listen to, especially if we are encouraging or demanding a kind of behavior that we rarely practice.

Jesus had a lot to say about preachers, most of it harsh and dismissive. He was especially disenchanted with the Pharisees and Sadducees who may have been fine fellows, but seemed unable not to interpret the law in ways that led everyday Jews into guilt and shame without changing their own lives.

Although transformation is clearly the goal of every religious tradition, unless we practice our faith with conviction and joy, our preaching will do little good. Who wants to listen to anyone who is more interested in evangelizing others than in living the Gospel themselves?

Today, make a review of your faith life and ask God for the integrity to live its challenges with delight.

Whose commitment to faith has most formed you in your own religious practice?

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