On Preaching the faith, according to our hearer’s needs.
Epistle from the first letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
1 Cor. 15:1-10
Brethren: I recall to your minds the Gospel that I preached to you, which also you received, wherein also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold it fast, as I preached it to you – unless you have believed to no purpose. For I delivered to you first of all, what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, and after that to the Eleven. Then He was seen by more than five hundred brethren at one time, many of whom are with us still, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by the Apostles. And last of all, as by one born out of due time, He was seen also by me. For I am the least of the Apostles, and am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace in me has not been fruitless.
Continuation ✠ of the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark
At that time, Jesus departing from the district of Tyre came by way of Sidon to the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the district of Decapolis. And they brought to Him one deaf and dumb, and entreated Him to lay His hand upon him. And taking him aside from the crowd, He put His fingers into the man’s ears, and spitting, He sighed, and said to him, Ephpheta, that is, Be opened. And his ears were at once opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak correctly. And He charged them to tell no one. But the more He charged them, so much the more did they continue to publish it. And so much the more did they wonder, saying, He has done all things well. He has made both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak.
Homily by Fr. Zepeda
We often hear the term “keep our faith”, “preach the faith”, “our Catholic Faith”.
When we hear the same word over and over, there is a danger of losing its meaning. It’s kind of what happens when you eat something you really like, day after day, it comes to a point where it doesn’t have that taste anymore. It becomes insipid.
So every now and then is good to look at this beautiful treasure that we have, and regain its meaning.
What do we mean when we speak of our Catholic Faith?
It’s not some particular idea, that we have as members of a group. It’s not some kind of cultural heritage, that we are trying to preserve.
This is a truth. a most important truth, that was explained and revealed to us by our parents, our elders, the generations before us. It’s a truth that was necessary for our existence, for our salvation, for our welfare.
It’s a truth necessary for our survival and happiness. It was taught to us, in several ways, through different means. It is refreshed in our memory by talks, sermons on Sundays, by the practice of what those truths mean, by the prayer, the disciplines that those truths give us.
Truth! a most important truth, given to us, transmitted to us, and that we must transmit.
Of this truth depends the future of our family, of our country, of mankind. Of this truth hangs not only our time, but our destiny for eternity. A truth! A Fact! a reality. This is what we mean when we say “Our Catholic Faith”.
It’s what St. Paul meant when He said to the Corinthians: “I make known unto you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received and wherein you stand, by which also you are saved, If you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you.”
IF you hold Fast! truths are not changed. They cannot be changed. Fiction, lies, stories may be modified at will. Truth must be untouched. If it is touched, if it is changed in the least, it’s fully destroyed. It’s not truth anymore.
And so our Faith must be unchanged, we must “hold fast” to it. We must transmit it, as we have received it, no more, no less. This transmission, which is so important, is what we call tradition.
And notice how the Apostle emphasizes, that we will be saved, only if we keep it: “in what manner I preached it” says St. Paul.
What a beautiful treasure we have! a Truth that enlightens the whole world! a Truth that changes lives! that gives meaning to all the world, to every day, to every second, to every suffering and joy in our existence.
It’s our treasure. The most precious we have, the most beautiful thing in our minds, and in our families. Nothing is worth more.
My friends, we must keep this, and pass it to our children. But I want to touch upon the example that our Lord gives us, in today’s Gospel.
Whenever our Lord healed, he wished to teach this truth of our faith, to those He healed. He wished to heal their soul, and also their body.
But notice how, our Lord in this instance, did not simply say a word, but he touched, and did some of a small ritual, in order to heal the deaf man. Could He not have healed him by a simple word? He could. But why then, did our Lord do all this?
You should know, that when a person has been deaf for a while, they have serious difficulties paying attention. Their sight becomes their main sense, and for that reason, they look around continuously, with a certain sense of insecurity, to become aware of things.
Teachers who deal with children like this, often put their hands on their cheeks, and they touch their foreheads, to keep their attention, and make them focus on them.
That’s what our Lord did. He touched Him and made Him focus on him, as a good teacher, in order that the deaf man could learn the faith, and learn that his salvation was coming from Christ.
The things that our Lord did, were a manner of communication to the deaf-mute man. He took His own saliva, and with it, touched the man, and made a groan, all to teach the man, trough symbols, what the man could not hear through his ears.
And this is a great lesson for us.
Often we will go out, and try to preach the faith to others in our own language, from our own perspective. Expecting them to understand at first what for us it took years to understand. Sometimes we judge them, or condemn them because we expect them to be moved by the same motives that we are; when perhaps they have been deaf for years, mute to explain their doubts or questions. We are dealing with a soul that speaks the language of the world, of the flesh, and we get irritated because he will not understand the language of Christ.
What to do then? What Christ did.
Descend to their level. speak to them in their language. Move them through their own motives, as Christ did, if they do not understand the words, try another, if they don’t get moved by truth, try a symbol. Be a good teacher, that teaches in the language that the pupil can understand, and attract them to this truth, the truth of our faith, with that same love that our Lord showed us when he came down to our level.
I cannot emphasize enough, my dear friends, how important it is for us, not to try to explain all the faith at once to new converts, not to bring the heaviest facts of reality to them at first, but rather begin by what’s easy, by giving them milk, by explaining what they can grasp and accept, and from thence proceed to explain the rest of the faith.
Thus our Lord did, and thus should we do.
Hear what St. Agustin said: “It is not that Truth is hidden… but that we don’t know how to seek for it”
In Nomine Patris…