Latin America

After more than thirty years since the Council, it is necessary to verify, as we reflect on the Sunday Eucharist, proclaiming how the Word of God, and the actual growth of knowledge and love of Sacred Scripture in the People of God. 1 Both aspects, the celebration and the lived experience are closely related (Dies Domini 40).

These words of Pope issues underpin these simple reflections on the Sunday homily in Latin America. Pope binds tightly a question, how do we proclaim the Word, how are preaching?, With a work of reflection: verify real and effective growth of knowledge and love of Sacred Scripture in the People of God. That love, coupled with knowledge translates to “lived experience” and complements the look “celebrative” of the Eucharist.

We link these things done right. If you want to know how we are preaching we always go to check on her knowledge and love of our people believing the Word. It was precisely the word that our Lord won the hearts of the people. Came to listen to all sides (Mk 1, 45). were amazed drinking his teachings (Mk 6, 2). They felt that they spoke as one having authority (Mk 1, 27). The Word was with the apostles, who “instituted to be with him and to be sent out to preach” (Mk 3, 14), attracted to the bosom of the Church to all peoples (cf. Mk 16: 15 – 20).

The homily as planting and harvesting

But what does “verify”? It is clear that this knowledge and love are not verified with statistical look who just count how many attend Sunday Mass or buy the Bible … The verification rather must come from look Good Sower.

A Sower look it look confident, long breath. The Sower never pries seeding every day, he knows whether he sleeps or ensure the seed grows by itself.

A look of Sower be hopeful look. The farmer, when he sees dawn tares among the wheat, not complaining or alarmist reactions. He is played by the fruitfulness of the seed against the temptation to rush times.

A look of the Sower be loving gaze of those who know how free fertility charity although seed seems wasted in many areas where it gives superabundantly fruits.

This look will sprout a homily that is, at once, planting and harvesting. Both when preparing his sermon as when dialogue with his people, the Spirit puts on the lips of the preacher who harvest words and words that are planted. Feeling and pondering in her heart what is knowledge and love of the people for the Word, the preacher prays a value crop is mature and shows ways to implement it, sometimes planting a wish, a hope for more, where land is good, suitable to grow the seed.

The sweet and comforting joy of preaching

As pastors, each of the plays we preach in our church services, we do well to renew every day, every Sunday, our fervor to prepare the homily, checking first whether in ourselves grows the knowledge and love of the Word that predicamos.2 As Paul says: We preach not as pleasing men, but God, who tests our hearts (1 Thess 2, 4).

If this love is alive to hear the Word that first we have to preach, like our love for a faithful receive the Eucharist more than we have to devote, it is sent in one way or another faithful people God.3 Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi we spoke of “the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing”:

Through the ministers of the Gospel, God wants to germinate the seed and depend on us whether this grows into trees and produces fruit. Retain, then, the spiritual fervor. Preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when to sow in tears (Evangelii Nuntiandi 80). This reflection suggests that rule of every good homily that says “it’s the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The Sunday readings resonate with all its splendor in the heart of the village without first resonated well in the heart of Pastor.4

“Do whatever He tells you”

To this may help the image of Our Lady, which is what best conveys the joy of faithful people that Word that first she rejoiced. Thus the Pope puts our Lady at the end of his Apostolic Letter as a model to look where the faithful, which is the member of preaching:

Towards the Virgin Mary watching the faithful who hear the word proclaimed in the Sunday assembly, learning from her to keep it and ponder it in his own heart (cf. Lk 2:19) (Dies Domini 86).

Can we put this picture also the beginning of our discussion and tell us what a good Sunday homily must have the taste of the wine again renewing the preacher’s heart while the listeners. And in this new wine, Mary is an expert from Cana. The grace of God’s people say with Mary (the mother of Mary tone) “Do whatever He tells you” is the grace that we ask in every homily. This tone mother of Our Lady is the “believer in the Word” and the “Servant of the Word.”

The priest must be the first “believer” of the Word, with the full awareness that the words of his ministry are not “theirs”, but his that sent it. He is not the owner of this word, but its server. He is the only possessor of the word is in debt to the people of God. Precisely because evangelized and to evangelize, the priest, and the Church must grow in awareness of the ongoing need to be evangelized “(Pastores Dabo Vobis 26).


The homily as a dialogue between God and his People

“Not to forget that the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God, especially in the context of the Eucharistic assembly is not so much a moment of meditation and catechesis, but is the dialogue between God and his people, in the which are proclaimed the wonders of salvation and proposed anew the demands of the covenant “(Dies Domini 40-41).

That the homily is not so much a moment of meditation and catechesis but “live dialogue between God and his People” is an assessment of the preaching that comes from its being integrated in the Eucharist. Assumes catechesis and is in continuity with it, but exceeds 5 being the highest point of the dialogue between God and his people, before sacramental communion. The Lord delights in real dialogue with his people and us that we have to preach this make you feel like the Lord our gente.6

The homily is because a resume that dialogue already begun between the Lord and his pueblo.7 So the preacher must grope and weigh the heart of their community to dialogue with looking where that heart is alive and ardent desire of God, and where such a dialogue, which began being loving, was “stolen”, “smothered” or could not bear fruit.

In Puebla is a beautiful paragraph which enlightens us who that people with whom the Lord is pleased to talk. The people of Latin America is a nation whose soul “has been stamped by the faith of the Church” (Puebla 445). That is “infallible in credendo” in the sense of GS 12. It is a wise people, with “a wisdom that is for the people principle of discernment, an evangelical instinct for capturing spontaneously when served in the Gospel and the Church when it is emptied and choking with other interests” (Puebla 448, cf . Juan Pablo II, Inaugural III 6).

The bishops Pope rescue this sentence in the opening speech and I think that is key to realizing the mystery of love that reigns between God and his faithful people, to know who we’re talking about. That “faith instinct” that makes our people in credendo infallible, should be the criterion by which warm our preaching east.

Popular religion is not only the subject of evangelization but, as containing the Word of God incarnate, is an active form with which people are constantly evangelizes itself. (P 450)

What does it mean to preach who evangelizes itself continuously and is infallible in credendo? Leaving aside all vain discussion about how much to “illustrate” still God’s people, I think the image of the Mother with her child is the best clarifies what it means to have to teach you know. The Church is Mother and preaches to the people as a mother talks to her son, with the confidence that the child knows that everything will be taught for the better, because he knows he is loved. Parents know this innate sense guided by having the children and gives them far mistreated when a limit or said something inappropriate. It is the spirit of love in a family that rules which guide both the mother and child in his dialogues where teaching and learning is assessed and corrected. So in his homily: this known in a family spirit is what guides the speaker and the listener. The Spirit who inspired the Gospels, also inspires how we must preach them and how to listen in every Eucharist.

This mother-ecclesial context in which dialogue takes place the Lord with his people should be encouraged and cultivated by the preacher cordial closeness 8, warmth of our tone of voice, style meekness of our sentences, the joy of our gestures … So how boring it can sometimes be to some, if present this ecclesial maternal spirit, is fruitful in the long run, as well as “boring mom tips” eventually bear fruit in the hearts of the children.

When one admires the resources that had the Lord to speak with his people, to transmit full disclosure to all, to captivate with teachings such as high demand and ordinary people, I think the secret lies in this appeal Jesus ecclesial establishing the Spirit among those who worship the Father. The belief that Jesus is expressed in “Fear not, little flock, for your Father’s good to give the Kingdom” (Lk 12, 32). In this Spirit Jesus preaches. Blesses So full of joy in the Spirit the Father draws him to small:

At that time, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for hiding these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little ones. Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been delivered by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him “(Lk 10, 21-22).

Beyond resources, which in the Gospel are infinite in quantity and quality, the preacher has the most beautiful and difficult task of uniting the hearts that love-the Lord’s and his people-and hearts that the duration the homily and leave quietly make him talk. Both the Lord and his people speak a thousand ways directly, without intermediaries. But in his homily want someone to act as mediator and express the feelings of both, so that after each choose where to continue their conversation. The Word is essentially mediator and requires not only the two in dialogue but a mediator to represent as such … A mediator who, like Paul, is convinced that “we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus” (2 Cor 4, 5).

A dialogue is much more than the communication of truth. The dialogue is done for the sake of talking and the concrete good that communicates between the lovers through the words. A well that is not in things but in the people themselves who give each other in dialogue. So purely moralistic preaching or exegetical reduces the communication between hearts to be given in the homily and that has to have a quasi-sacramental, because “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” ( Rom 10, 17).

“The wonders of salvation and the demands of the covenant” in the homily

“Dialogue between God and his people, in which are proclaimed the wonders of salvation and proposed anew the demands of the covenant …” (Dies Domini 41).

Dialogue is proclaiming the wonders of salvation, in which shines the glory of the Lord and the living man. The dialogue between God and his people set more close alliance between them and the bond of charity. So central is the homily, the truth go hand in hand with the beauty and goodness. It is not for nothing abstract truths and cold, much less if they go in handfuls and syllogisms. The homily requires that every truth to proclaim the Gospel, we know also discover and communicate the beauty of the images that the Lord used to attract attention (the parables are a beautiful example), I would say, the opportunity, the kairos-that His love discovered or created to encourage the practice of good.

The memory of the faithful, like Mary, 9 must be full of the wonders of God and his heart hopeful and joyful practice of love can be told. And this is because every word in Scripture is the first gift before requirement.


The deposit of the faith of the faithful in his homily

This synthesis of truth, beauty and good is not something to be invented: it belongs to the Word made flesh, and where the word has been received by a town, built in their culture, this synthesis is what we call “popular religiosity” .

The religiosity of the people, at its core, is a storehouse of values ​​that match with Christian wisdom to the great questions of existence (Puebla 449).

In this expression of Puebla find beauty as “admiration for the great questions of life,” because the answer tell admiration usually embodied in rituals, art and popular festivals, the truth is found as “Christian wisdom” and well as “heritage value”. The love of God creates people, always creates culture because it is binding on a stable and faithful and that engenders ways of seeing, feeling and creating common among men.

The Christian preaching therefore in this cultural heart of our people a source of living water for what to say and how you have to say. Just as we all like to talk to us in our mother tongue, and if we are forced to use other, so in faith we like to talk to us in key “mother culture”. Of course, to grow from there, open up and improve. But when he speaks in the heart language available to listen better. This language is a tone that conveys “parrhesia” as the mother of his children Maccabees, and also achieved a synthesis and a wisdom in which one feels at home. As Puebla says:

The Catholic popular wisdom has a capacity of vital synthesis and creatively brings the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and affection. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches nature to find and understand the work and provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a life very hard (Puebla 448).

Tensions Puebla-mentioned divine and human, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and affection are universal. The synthesis vital, these tensions lead creatively, that is indefinable in words, because all require, the symbolic heart and living for our people-that translates into “names” as Guadalupe and Luján pilgrimage in faith, in gestures blessing and solidarity, an offering and song and dance … – that heart in which and through which our people love and believe, is the place where you have placed theological vitally the preacher. That is, the challenge of evangelizing preaching is inculturated synthesis is not loose ideas or values. Where your synthesis, could paraphrase, there is your heart. The difference between synthetic illuminate the space and light loose ideas is the same as that between boredom and heart burning.

It is not easy to speak from the heart to God’s people. Not enough to be well intentioned. People appreciate and value when a preacher strives to be honest, when it comes down to real images the word … But speaking of heart means to have not only hot, but illuminated by the integrity of revelation, by the Word and by the way that word has come into the heart of the Church and our faithful people throughout its history (tradition).

By revaluing the positive elements of popular piety, Puebla, in a rich and inspired text (454) provides an outline of synthesis into something that is more than a mere listing. In each “element” collected the hearts of many pastors and a summary note. Are “elements” concrete universals, in which all faith shines embodied in a figure typical of our Latin American religiosity. Al irlas acentuaré reading some brief suggestions that might inspire our homilies to feed on this synthesis and feed in the heart of the listeners.

Puebla says:

As positive elements of popular piety can be noted:

Trinitarian presence perceived in devotions and iconography,

At triune God our people live as a baptismal God and baptizer. A God in which one child was submerged and in which we live and move and exist. The mystery of the Trinity is more vital environment surrounding the faith of our people that specifically targeted for rational discourse. More than words, so they must be Trinitarian in our homilies are our gestures, our images, the length of time we devote to each divine person.

the sense of the providence of God the Father;

Here we would say that enlighten and nourish the image of the Father as Provident involves preaching hope. Our Town rests and rejoices when we speak of God always bigger, the God who cared for our parents, our grandparents, the God who shepherds the future of our little children …

Our homilies, if they want to be faithful and fruitful, must plant and harvest always hope.

Christ celebrated in the mystery of Incarnation (Christmas: The Child), in his Crucifixion, in the Eucharist and devotion to the Sacred Heart;

Jesus is at the heart of our people as the Child in the manger, as the dead on a cross, and the sandwich of the first communion of the boys and as the God who has a good heart. Sometimes, noting (quantitative minded) “missing” an image of raised, it is thought that a second evangelization has to come to “add” another image, in the best, if not replace all previous by a purest complete. Beyond all pretense apologetics, worth from the conviction that faith, if it bore fruit, because it is planted in full, and go look at the images that are already in the heart, what they tell us about themselves integrates everything new, how to purify and complete. The crosses covered with glory still speak to the hearts of our people rather than the “Stop Suffering” sects.

Love Mary: She and “its mysteries belong to the identity of these peoples and characterize popular piety” (John Paul II, Homily Zapopán, 2. AAS LXXI, p. 228), venerated as the Immaculate Mother of God and the men, as Queen of our countries and the entire continent;

In the center of Puebla passage puts the love of Mary. Mary and her mysteries “belong to the identity of these people,” says the Pope. It moves our people, so real, that’s truer than Latin American magical realism is “full of grace”, everything a more rational discourse misses regarding presence of concepts of resurrection and Holy Spirit. All “positive, festive, which is life, beauty, joy, party … embodies our people María.10 In homilies for our people, Mary must not be only conclusion but, more specifically, a reference center .

Center because it is for our people “model of how to believe”:

“Mary, who by the eternal will of the Most High stands, one may say, in the very center of those” inscrutable ways “and” unsearchable judgments “of God, conforms herself to them in the darkness of faith, accepting fully and heart everything that is decreed in the divine “(Redemptoris Mater 14).

Center because it is for our people “sign of sure hope”:

“Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is located in the center of that” enmity “that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of salvation itself. In this place, she who belongs to the “weak and poor of the Lord” bears in itself, like any other among the human race, that “glory of grace” that the Father “bestowed on us in the Beloved” and this grace determines the extraordinary greatness and beauty of it all his being. Mary thus remains before God, and also to all humanity, as the unchangeable and inviolable sign of election by God, spoken of the Pauline letter: “He chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world … He destined us in love to be his sons “(Eph 1, 4.5). This choice is more powerful than any experience of evil and sin, than all that” enmity “which marks the history of man. In this story, Mary remains a sign of sure hope “(Redemptoris Mater 11).

Center because it is for our people instead of mercy:

“Mary is the first to participate in this new revelation of God and, through it, of this new” self-giving “of God. Therefore she proclaims:” He has done great things for me, holy is his name. “In her exultation Mary confesses that found in the heart of this fullness of Christ.’s aware that it is made the promise to parents and, above all, “to Abraham and his children for ever,” in she, as the mother of Christ is the whole salvific economy, in which “from generation to generation”, who appears as God of the Covenant, “remembers mercy. ‘” (Redemptoris Mater 36).

Of all the other elements, 11 we can meditate as valuable synthesis-each-to consider when preaching, finally just one more highlight:

The ability to express faith in a whole language of over rationalism (song, picture, gesture, color, dance), that Faith situated in time (parties) and places (shrines and temples).

This faith that expresses our faithful people so full and integrated situated not only in content but existentially-should find an echo in the Sunday homily. The challenge is to reinterpret the same faith which our people live in their own language and mode of expression so as to grow and purify it from within.

As he says later Puebla, prophetically: “If the Church does not reinterpret the religion of the Latin American people, there will be a void that will occupy sects, secular political messianism, consumerism that produces boredom and indifference or pagan pansexualism. Again the Church is faced with the problem: what does not assume in Christ, he is redeemed and becomes an idol again with old malice “(Puebla 468).

The challenge, then, that we still poses is that of a new evangelization, which, as Puebla says, “has to appeal to the Christian memory of our peoples.” The deposit of faith taught by the mothers in the hearts of his children over the centuries is living source of our identity. Unchanging identity but to improve until Christ is formed in us. This identity is the embrace baptismal small gave us the Father, makes us long, as prodigal sons, and Mary-favorite in another embrace, the merciful Father awaits us. Make our people feel in the middle of these two hugs is the tough but beautiful task of preaching the Gospel.

Rome, January 19, 2005

Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J.
Archbishop of Buenos Aires
(*) Statement of the Archbishop in the Plenary of the Commission for Latin America

[1] In the Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 24, speaks of “suavis et vivus Sacrae Scripturae affectus.”

[2] … For the absolute need for the new evangelization in the priests have their first “new evangelization” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 2).

[3] “In particular, the degree of holiness of the minister actually influences the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments and in the direction of the community in charity. This was clearly stated by the Council: “The holiness of priests contributes greatly to the fruitful exercise of the ministry itself, for, if it is true that God’s grace can perform the work of salvation through unworthy ministers, yet God ordinarily prefers to show his wonders through those, more open to the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by his intimate union with Christ and holiness of life, can say with the Apostle: “But I no longer live, but Christ lives in me “(Gal 2: 20)” (Pastores Dabo Vobis 25).

[4] “So the priest himself ought first to have a great personal familiarity with the word of God is not enough to know its linguistic or exegetical aspects, it is also necessary; needs to approach the word with a soft heart and praying, for her deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook of “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2, 16), so that his words, his choices and attitudes may become more transparency, a proclamation and witness of the Gospel. Only “remaining” in the Word, the priest become a perfect disciple of the Lord, know the truth and be truly free, overcoming every conditioning contrary or foreign to the Gospel (cf. Jn 8, 31-32) (Pastores Dabo Vobis 26).

[5] “respecting the specificity and the rhythm of this table, the homily again the journey of faith put forward by catechesis, and brings it to its natural” (CT 48).

[6] The dialogue is for the Church, in a sense, a means and, above all, a way to develop its activities in the contemporary world. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council, having proclaimed that “the Church, under the stated mission to enlighten the whole world with the Gospel message and to gather in one Spirit to all men (…) , which becomes a sign of brotherhood which allows honest dialogue and strengthens “, adding that the Church should be able to” open, with ever increasing fertility, dialogue between all those who compose the one People of God “and also to “maintain a dialogue with human society” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 25).
[7] Dialogue is of mercy, as John Paul II said in his first encyclical: “mercy belongs not only to the concept of God, but it is something that characterizes the lives of all the people of Israel and their own children and daughters: the content of intimacy with their Lord, the content of his conversation with El (DM 4).

[8] “The priest must grow in awareness of the deep communion uniting him to God’s people, he is not only” in front of “the Church, but above all” in “the Church. ‘s Brother among brothers. The consciousness of this communion leads to the need to promote and develop co-responsibility in the one common mission of salvation, with a prompt and heartfelt esteem for all the charisms and tasks which the Spirit gives believers for the edification of the Church. Especially in the fulfillment of pastoral ministry, ordered by its nature to the good of the people of God, the priest must live and witness to his profound communion with all, as Paul VI wrote: “We must become brothers of men in the same time we want to be their pastors, parents and teachers. The climate of dialogue is friendship. More than that, the service “(Pastores Dabo Vobis 74).

[9] It is in this way, ecclesial pilgrimage through space and time, and even more through the history of souls, Mary is present as is “blessed because she believed” such as advancing “in the pilgrimage of faith “, sharing unlike any other creature in the mystery of Christ. The Council further says that “Mary … profoundly in the history of salvation, in a way unites and mirrors itself the greatest demands of faith “). Among all believers is like a “mirror”, which reflects the most profound and clear “the wonders of God” (Acts 2: 11) (Redemptoris Mater 25).

[10] The Pope has a beautiful passage talking about Marian icons of the ancient peoples of Russia: “In these Icons the Virgin shines as the image of divine beauty, the abode of eternal Wisdom, praying figure, prototype contemplation, the image of glory: one who, from his earthly life possessed the spiritual knowledge inaccessible to human reasoning, with faith has reached the sublime knowledge. I also remember the icon of Our Lady of the Cenacle, praying with the Apostles in expectation of the Spirit. Might not this be a sign of hope for all those who, in fraternal dialogue, wish to deepen their obedience of faith “(Redemptoris Mater 33).

[11] the saints, as protectors, the dead, the awareness of personal dignity and fraternal solidarity, the consciousness of sin and need for atonement, the ability to express faith in a whole language of over rationalism (song, pictures , gesture, color, dance), the Fe situated in time (parties) and places (shrines and temples), and sensitivity to the pilgrimage as a symbol of human existence and Christian filial respect to the shepherds as representatives of God , the ability to celebrate faith and community expressively; deep integration of the sacraments and sacramentals in personal and social life, the warm affection for the person of the Holy Father’s ability to endure suffering and heroism testing and confess the faith, the value of prayer, and the acceptance of others (Puebla 454).

Posted in 2005

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