A sermon of St Laurence of Brindisi
|Preaching is an apostolic task|
In common with the angels of heaven and the spirits of God, we have been created in the image and likeness of God. If, in common with them, we are to lead a spiritual life, we need as our food the grace of the Holy Spirit and the charity of God. But grace and charity are nothing without faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God. Nor can faith come about without the preaching of the word of God. ‘Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ.’ Thus the preaching of the word of God is as necessary for our spiritual life as sowing is for our bodily life. This is why Christ says: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed.’ The sower who went out is the preacher of holiness. Sometimes we read that God himself was the preacher of holiness, as in the desert when his very voice gave from heaven the law of justice to the whole people. Sometimes the preacher was an angel of the Lord; at the Place of Weepers he rebuked the people for breaking God’s law, so that the children of Israel, when they heard the words of the angel, were cut to the heart, lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. Again, Moses preached the law of God to the whole people in the plains of Moab, as we can read in Deuteronomy. Finally Christ, God and man, came to preach the word of the Lord, and he sent out the apostles on this task, just as previously he had sent the prophets.
Preaching, then, is an apostolic task, an angelic task, a Christian task, a divine task. The word of God is so filled with manifold goodness that it is like a treasury of all good things. From this word come faith, hope, charity, all the virtues, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all the gospel beatitudes, all good works, all merit in this life, all the glory of paradise. ‘Receive the implanted word which is able to save your souls.’
For the word of God is light to the mind and fire to the will, enabling man to know and to love God. To the interior man who lives by grace for the Spirit of God, it is bread and water; but it is a bread sweeter than honey from the comb, a water better than milk or wine. For the soul it is a spiritual treasure-house of merits, and so is called gold and very precious stones. For the heart that is obstinately hardened in vice it is a hammer; and against the devil, the world and the flesh it is a sword that slays every sin.