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Simple and clear

THE STORY is told about a politician who was delivering a campaign speech and who went on and on until he noticed that the crowd had left, except for one man. The politician thanked the man for his patience and support, whereupon the man said: “Sir, I am in charge of the sound system. I am just waiting for you to finish talking, and then I, too, am gone.”

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In today’s Gospel (Mk. 4, 26-34), we are told of how Jesus could hold crowds with His teaching, using simple parables that everyone could understand. He connected very well with His audience because He was a good communicator. His message was simple and clear, His method was, likewise, simple and clear, and He, himself, was simple and clear. Because Jesus was simple and clear, He was able to show to the people the way, the truth and the life.

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“They say little who love much.” Ours is a world so full of noise and words; almost everyone has something to say about almost everything! With the 2016 elections just around the bend, expect more empty “debates” and self-serving speeches. Pope Francis was one who did not say much when he visited us last January, but his few words cleared our minds, moved our hearts and lighted our paths. Why? Because he, too, was simple and clear—and compassionate. Why do people not listen to you? Maybe it’s because you are not worth listening to, or maybe you talk too much, or are too high, too proud, too harsh.

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The Gospel we proclaim is, and should be, good news. It is a Gospel that is filled with love, compassion and hope. May all of our preaching be a proclamation of God’s unconditional love that would give meaning and encouragement to our people. We also proclaim Christ who has been crucified, and who is one with us in our sufferings. Finally, we proclaim a risen Christ who assures us victory over our sins and trials.

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In our preaching, let us not forget “KISS”—Keep it Simple and Short! The problem with us is that we do not know how to connect, and we do not know how and when to stop. We often just go on and on. Like Jesus, we must use modern-day parables that will help people understand the word of God. Like Jesus, we must allow the power of the WORD to come forth—and that will only happen if we do not let our personal or group issues, hang-ups and agenda get in the way.

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A formator in the seminary once told us: “If you have nothing to say, don’t say it during the homily.” He was teaching us the value of brevity. He was reminding us of the 7-minute rule in our preaching the word of God; anything beyond that is preaching ourselves already. He was also teaching us the value of silence. If we have nothing of real value to say, let us not be afraid to pause or be silent before God.

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We just celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We may wonder why we do not have a Feast of the Sacred Head of Jesus, or a Feast of the Immaculate Head of Mary. It’s to remind us that the heart matters, and that
matters of the heart do matter.

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When you preach to your congregation, are you targeting their brains, their hearts, or their pockets? When you preach to your congregation, are you after their applause and admiration, or their transformation and conversion? When you preach to your congregation, are you all words but no action?

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Last June 7, I was in Cebu for a recollection and Mass with the members of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the Sacred Heart gymnasium. The place was hot and humid, and I was sort of asking the Lord why we had to conduct the activities there. Just then, the power went off, along with the lights, the electric fans and the sound system. It was a learning experience for me: First, not to complain when things are bad, for they can get worse! Second, to improvise and not be dependent on gadgets and modern-day technology in our spreading the Good News. And improvise I did, by performing magic tricks, sign language, and directing the Word of God relay by whispering to one another.

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I heard that there is a restaurant somewhere in Metro Manila with a sign that says: “No Wi-Fi here. Talk to each other.” And I heard that a lot of people are going there. Amen!

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Think about this:

“A word of love gives inspiration to life, a word of care gives happiness to the heart, but the word of God gives direction and meaning to our lives.”

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Sharing with you a simple prayer for healing: “Lord, heal me. Heal whatever You see needs healing in me. Heal me of whatever might separate me from You. Heal my body, my heart, my emotions, my relationships, and my memory. Lay Your hands gently upon me and heal me.”

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A moment with the Lord:

Help us, Lord, to be simple and clear in our words, especially in the lives we are living. Amen!

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