The ministry of the Word entails communicating the Word of Christ. This word ultimately comes forth from Christ Jesus and is one with Christ. In preaching, one must strive to reach many, being aware that each person is unique with his or her own needs. First and foremost, each human being needs God—whether they know it well, or not. The goal in preaching is not to entertain; nor to “tell stories” for their own sake; nor to instruct with historical, biblical, or churchy information. Rather, the preacher must keep his mind on the goal: to help bring each hearer increasing contact with the God already and forever dwelling in the depth of the soul. The word of Christ is not imposed on the hearers, but flows from Christ present in the preacher to Christ present in the hearer—ever filtered through our human understanding and feelings. It is humbling and beneficial for the preacher to keep in mind that he is not peddling Christ as a salesman; rather, he helps the hearer to open up more fully to the presence of Christ already abiding in the soul. To put the matter differently: the preacher appeals to the hearer’s true and best nature—his or her life in union with Christ. If Christ were not already present in the hearer of the word, preaching would not be sharing Christ, but seeking to impose the Lord on “unsaved” matter. Similarly, at Mass the Eucharist is not given to an empty vessel, but to a human being who is already a member of Christ: The Body of Christ is freely given to the Body of Christ—to you carrying within you the living God, so that you may become more truly one with Christ.
It is Christ himself whom the soul needs, who nourishes the soul, who consoles the heart, and who wisely guides each back into union with the unseen God. The proclaimed word of God is one, but each hears and is nourished in a unique way. Each person truly receives “according to the manner of the one receiving,” and not according to the manner of the preacher. Through the proclaimed word, God-in-Christ tends each soul in ways He knows best, and as each hearer lovingly surrenders to Christ within. This spiritual work requires free cooperation and loving attention by preacher and hearers. It does not happen automatically. Each is free to resist God: the preacher to present his own thoughts or cute stories rather than the word of God; and hearers to attend to the living Word, or to close their minds and daydream.