I have been told at various times as a priest that I am preaching to the choir. The phrase seems to imply that some person or group—represented as the choir—doesn’t necessarily need to hear a particular message. They’ve heard it all before! They don’t need to hear it again! Blah, blah, blah!
This got me thinking! (Realizing that this could be a dangerous course to navigate), I must conclude that even the most faithful, participating church members—people like those who may join the choir—need to be the regular recipients of the preached Gospel message. Is anyone really exempt from hearing the Good News? I don’t think so.
Beginning with myself, every time I preach, I preach to the entire congregation. Maybe the reason various people get into trouble (priests and bishops included) is that they think that they are somehow above what Jesus has to say. Conversion is something that we must all desire, pray for continually, and work at constantly—all of us, without exception!
Priests are required by canon law (#276.2, 4) to make an annual retreat, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily (#276.2, 3) and to “pursue holiness” (#276.1). We priests need to work at our spiritual lives constantly lest we become like Peter (denying Christ), Judas (betraying Christ) or most of the other apostles (fleeing from the cross) even though they were his personally chosen, intimate band of followers.
Therefore, we need to be preaching to the choir, and to the lectors, and to the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and to the altar servers, and to the ushers, and to the sisters, and to the priests and deacons, etc. etc. We need to preach to those who are here each week and to those who are more sporadic in attendance. The entire congregation, making up the Body of Christ, needs to be fed and nourished by both the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist. It is Christ—our Head—who feeds and nourishes us, protects us, encourages us, guides us, heals us, forgives us, etc. etc.
Finally, with reference to the choir, I thank Mrs. Donna McCarthy for accepting the duty of directing our adult choir. She has been doing a wonderful job with our children’s choir and I have confidence that she will do an equally fine job with the adults. If you are interesting in joining the choir, please contact her through the parish office.
I am most happy to be able to preach to all of you here at St. Joseph’s! (Even those of you who choose to read this church bulletin during the homily each week! Gotcha!)
Fr. Ed Namiotka