If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast,
for an obligation has been imposed on me,
and woe to me if I do not preach it!
That sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? Woe to me. According to the dictionary, woe means : grievous distress, affliction, or trouble. When I was ordained, the Archbishop had me put my hand on the book and proclaimed that I was now a herald of the Gospel, but he didn’t say anything about grievous distress, affliction, or trouble if I didn’t preach. But here it is, in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It must be true.
I know some of you probably think “whoa”, as in stop, when I start to talk up here. But I have no choice. It says right here that I have to preach. But we also have the famous quote from Saint Francis, a deacon by the way, speaking to his monks. He told them to always preach the Gospel and if necessary to use words. Saint Francis doesn’t trump Saint Paul, but he has a point.
Here’s the thing. Saint Paul wasn’t just speaking to deacons and priests. His letter was to everyone in the church at Corinth. He’s calling on all of us to preach the Gospel, not just those of us who’ve been called to Holy Orders. When you look at it that way, Francis’ words make perfect sense.
We preach the Gospel every time we we interact with another human being. At least we’re supposed to. Our actions speak louder than words when we help someone who’s in trouble; when we give to charity; in all the little things we do every day.
Remember what Paul said, woe to us if we don’t preach the Gospel.