Friday, November 9, 2007

A note on preaching

When the Gospel reading is a parable told by Jesus, why do some preachers feel compelled to tell a story about a story? In my experience, most Catholics can certainly use and many desire expository preaching, which requires some exegetical work. Put simply, more substance, less style. There is nobody less interesting or funny than somebody trying really hard to be interesting or funny.

I know I am in for an ordeal when after reading, say, the parable of the Prodigal Son, the preacher begins his homily with something like this: "Last Thanksgiving, as we gathered around the table, I asked my nephew, who had earlier that day lost the television remote, to say grace . . .". Of course I am exaggerating to make a point, but not by much judging merely from my own experience. Though well-intended, such stories usually wind up in some moralistic platitude, like it is important to forgive others. Now, I agree that it is important, even crucial, to forgive others, but quite often it isn't easy and I don't want to. Jesus is certainly saying more in this particular story than that! It is the preacher's role to try and communicate what else it is that our Lord is telling the communio, to move beyond the most obvious meaning. The preacher who refuses to do so becomes merely a MODO- a master of detecting the obvious. Put simply, if we preachers do not at least try to move beyond the most obvious meaning of Scripture, there is no value added by our preaching.


  1. Would you say, however, that by moving beyond the obvious meaning, you uncover that which enhances the obvious? And is that obviously what you meant?

  2. Good one!

    As far as answering the question, I'd have to say that it depends. Somtimes the obvious meaning is a bit misleading, inaccurate, or incomplete. Depending on which one of those it is determines to a large extent whether one enhances the obvious meaning or not.

  3. Perhaps a clarification is in order: by stating that a preacher needs to move beyond the most obvious meaning of Scripture I am not suggesting that the meaning of the text be leaped over, set aside, or disregarded in any way. Rather, it gets back to my beginning: good expository preaching, which, if done well, is based on good exegesis, which requires work.

  4. Hello Deacon,
    I am a new guy here in the blog world, and I only recently started one of my own. I titled it in Greek, not unlike your own, but my Greek HTML goes crazy on me. I was wondering if you had the same problem and how you fixed it. Any advice would be greatly apreciated.

    It may look good at first, but then try clicking the yellow "home" link in the upper right. See that? Kinda screwy...

    Anyway, let me know if you have any advice. Thanks!! I enjoy your blog. Ran into it through The Ironic Catholic.

  5. First off, welcome! Your blog template looks great. I am far from a computer genius. All I did was load up Greek fonts into Windows and I have never had any trouble.

    When I went to your blog and clicked on Test Post and then the yellow letters in the upper right corner, it took me right back to your home page. So, it seemed to work fine.


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