We read this morning in the Gospel, “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.'” (Mat 23 1-2)
It is easy to preach. It is hard to practice. Paul VI said, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if it does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” We were told in the seminary that the days are over when people would listen to you just because you are a priest. This is not entirely a bad thing. It means that we are all called first to give witness to what we believe.
There is a modern axiom that says, ‘The medium is the message.’ This can be applied to the preacher or teacher. People will first look to us to see if we believe what we are preaching. If the people of God sense that we do not believe what we are preaching or teaching they will tune us out. if on the other hand, they feel we do believe what we are preaching they are more likely to follow what he says.
When people listen to a homily, they ask them self this question if even unconsciously, “Is this priest a man of faith? Does he believe what he saying? One of the reasons that people rose to their feet when Mother Theresa spoke was because they say in her a woman of faith. I could say the same thing about Pope Francis. People are listening to what he has to say because they see in him a man of simple and profound faith.
How easy it is to preach. How much harder it is to practice.