A Preacher’s Guide to Advent
“How do we really enter into a season like Advent when the world around us is already celebrating Christmas?” This is the question host Ricardo da Silva, S.J., sets before his guests, Scripture scholars Barbara Reid, O.P., and Victor Cancino, S.J., at the start of this episode, which breaks the usual mold of the podcast.
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Instead of the usual show where we hear a homily for a given Sunday and then talk to a guest preacher, we’ve invited Sister Reid and Father Cancino to share ways into the Scriptures for Advent and offer us avenues for preaching in each of the four weeks of this time. What do preachers need to keep in mind as we move into a new liturgical year, from Year A to Year B, and season, from Ordinary Time to Advent? What are the key themes that preachers can draw inspiration from for their homilies?
How do we really enter into a season like Advent when the world around us is already celebrating Christmas?
“It’s a marvelous opportunity at one of the busiest, most stressful times of the year for us to step back and to pay attention to what God is doing in our midst,” says Barbara, who is a Dominican sister of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the president of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. “And to try to open our hearts more clearly to God’s presence, which is always with us.” Barbara is also the Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., Professor of New Testament Studies at the C.T.U. and a leading scholar in feminist interpretation of the Scriptures.
“The way I see it, the church has two profound mysteries,” says Victor, who studied Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He is now a Jesuit priest and the pastor-in-residence at St. Ignatius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana. “It’s the mystery of the Incarnation and it’s the mystery of the resurrection and redemption in Easter,” he adds. “How do we sit in adoration of the mystery without necessarily reaching for the answers, but to recognize the mystery for what it is?”
Victor is also the present columnist for ‘The Word,’ America magazine’s weekly feature on the Sunday Scriptures. He continues a legacy previously upheld by Barbara.
Listen to “Preach” this week to hear what wisdom Barbara and Victor have to share about the Scriptures and the art of preaching to retell the Scripture.
“Try not to play 21st-century Bible-land,” when you’re reflecting on the Scripture readings used in the Eucharistic celebration, says Barbara. “The real skill is to try as best you can, to understand what the scriptures meant in their original context, but then make the bridge to today’s context. And where’s the word of hope in those Scriptures for today’s congregations?”