Preaching the Just Word

Preaching the Just Word

Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Preaching the Just Word
    Book Description:

    In this inspiring and compassionate book, one of America's foremost Catholic theologians discusses why we must apply biblical justice-and not merely ethical/legal justice-to matters concerning the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. Focusing on abused or neglected children, the AIDS-afflicted, the elderly, women, African-Americans, refugees, and prisoners on death row, Father Walter Burghardt urges that we become sensitive to their problems and faithful to the responsibilities we have undertaken in our covenant with God. We must hear the cries of the poor, he says, because social doctrine should evolve in large measure from the needs of people who share more of Jesus' crucifixion than his resurrection.Father Burghardt points to a long history of Catholic teaching on social justice, quoting from the earliest Church Fathers to the latest papal encyclicals. A greatly admired preacher, he has particular advice for other preachers, telling them that sermons need not give answers to specific social issues but should sensitize awareness of these issues and show their religious importance. He concludes by discussing some of the most controversial debates facing Christian clergy and the laity: assisted suicide, ordination of women, and gay and lesbian issues.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14734-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. ONE Preaching the Just Word in Scripture
    (pp. 1-26)

    Several years ago, the creative Scripture scholar Walter Brueggemann addressed what he called the problem of “scandal” in the preaching of social, political, and economic issues:

    In Luke 7, after John the Baptist raises his christological question through his disciples whether Jesus is the Christ, and after Jesus answers with specificity that “the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the dead are raised, and the poor rejoice,” Jesus adds, “blessed is the one who is not scandalized by me” (v. 23). Or as I have rendered it, “lucky are you, if you are not upset.” The theological scandal...

  5. TWO Preaching the Just Word in Tradition
    (pp. 27-60)

    When Notre Dame’s Lawrence Cunningham was professor of religion at Florida State, he found himself frustrated in the classroom. Why?

    . . . because students lack any sense of the historical perspective of Western culture in general and the part Catholicism played in the formation of that culture in particular. They . . . have no sense of the kind of church which existed before the Second Vatican Council. Students have this strong conviction that what is important happens now and the “now” has little or no link with the past. They tend to see the life of the church...

  6. THREE Preaching the Cry of the Poor
    (pp. 61-83)

    In the Roman Catholic liturgy the first reading from Scripture is followed by a sung or recited responsorial psalm. One of those psalms contains this response, repeated again and again by the faithful: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” The Lord does indeed hear the cries of the disadvantaged, those who hunger for bread or love, for freedom or peace, though the “mystery of iniquity” prevents us from understanding just how the Lord “hears” the cries of the crucified images of Christ in the sub-Sahara and Serbia, in Northern Ireland and South Africa, on the icy streets of...

  7. FOUR Three Social Issues on an Upsurge
    (pp. 84-120)

    Since completing the expanded version of my Beecher Lectures, I have been urged by an enthusiastic critic of those pages to allot some space to three crucial issues that have mushroomed in recent years but have not been directly addressed in the preceding three chapters. The issues call for consideration here because they have clear implications for biblical justice and can scarcely be neglected by anyone summoned to proclaim the gospel. The issues are (1) assisted suicide, (2) the role of women in the Catholic Church, with special emphasis on priestly ordination, and (3) gays and lesbians. On the other...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 121-142)
  9. Index
    (pp. 143-149)