That’s something I often tell guys in homiletics class: always be ready to preach, whether you’re scheduled or not. Just because you aren’t on the schedule doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t find yourself in the pulpit.
This morning was another lesson why.
I’d spent the first part of the week shuttling back and forth between my home in Queens, my office in Manhattan and a parish in Pleasantville, about an hour north of New York City, preaching a Lenten mission. It was rewarding, but tiring, and I didn’t give much time or thought to the readings for this weekend. I wasn’t scheduled to preach and didn’t think I would do anything other than serve Mass on Sunday,
But, to be safe, early this morning, I decided to print out some material I had posted on my blog a few years back on the subject of Laetare Sunday — just in case. I outlined in my head a few talking points on rose vestments, on reconciliation (tied to the second reading from St. Paul) and God’s mercy (the Prodigal Son). I figured, if I had to, I would have something to say.
When I arrived at the parish around 10:30 a.m., the pastor was in the kitchen finishing his breakfast and struggling with a throat ailment. “Are you going on for the 11:30?,” he asked with a raspy voice. “Do you mind preaching for me?”
With the Holy Spirit nudging me along, I pulled together some thoughts, scribbled a few notes on the margins of the text I’d printed out — tying it to confession and Reconciliation Monday — and managed to preach something shockingly coherent at our 11:30 a.m. Mass.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me.I’m sure it won’t be the last. (See my homily for Bambinelli Sunday — which ironically happened to be Guadete Sunday and involved some similar themes … and vestments!)
So I want to impart this simple message for deacons and deacon candidates:
What’s the best advice for preaching, on any given Sunday? What should you always remember?