March 28, 2007


Last night I started to think about how to preach on Easter. To my surprise I felt a little bit of panic. But then I remembered something I've heard over and over from priests over the years: Easter and the easter season are the hardest time of year to preach.

I've always wondered, why should this be so? Why should the central mystery of Christian faith be hard to preach on?

I think that it might have something to do with our general style of preaching. In my experience, most homilies are moral exhortations, words of general encouragement, or explications of the general contours of the spiritual life. These are fine things, certainly, but they have no need for God the Trinity.

In other words, my critique of much of the preaching I hear is that it is functionally unitarian. There's us, and there is a God who loves us, and this is how we might respond in gratitude. That's fine, but it doesn't take note of the central mystery of Christianity: That God is somehow a manifold Spirit, a "part" of whose intentionality identifies itself with human nature in general and suffering and death in particular, but whose indestructible nature as God prevails and thus destroys death from the inside.

I opine that some of this is a symptom of a more general problem: that often we buy into the seductive philosophy of religion offered by this world. This philosophy says that we Christians are part of the genus, "people of faith," or worse, "spirituality" of which the particularities of Christian revelation are the secondary specifics.

But it's not as if we have faith in some abstract "God" whom we then come to believe in as Trinity. It's that our humanity is taken up into the humanity of Christ, and we come to experience the faithfulness of Christ as the existential experience of faith. We are people of faith because of the faithfulness of Christ, through the Spirit that is praying in us to the Father.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My critique of much of the preaching I hear is that it is functionally unitarian.

Excellent insight! I couldn't agree with you more. I joke around sometimes that, judging by what I've heard in many homilies, the only thing I need to do to be a good Catholic is have good manners, in which case I can just go read Emily Post.

So, looking forward to a powerhouse sermon from you this Easter, not just a little homily!