Preaching and practice



It is so easy to say things like, ”I wouldn’t do that;” or “I wouldn’t let my children be a part of that;” or even “I would never say that.” How many times have we all been guilty of not practicing what we preach?

We know what is right, what is necessary, how to act. We ask our kids to be honest, to be fair, to treat others with kindness and respect.

But there we go, saying something unkind about someone – usually someone we disagree with – someone who, we tell ourselves, might be poorly uninformed. Or someone who has hurt or disappointed us.

We let our anger get the best of us sometimes in traffic; anger at someone for what we felt they did wrong with their driving. Sometimes, I try to stop and count to 10, take a deep breath and keep my thoughts to myself.

When I accomplish this, I always feel better. I didn’t make a fool of myself, realizing the other person might just be right. I try to remember that treating others with respect and practicing what I preach, as Christ taught us, is the best action I can take.

I am saddened sometimes when we listen to those who like to share the word of God in such a public form, only to see them fall from grace at some point. What happened to those words, thoughts and guidance they had been giving to others? Did they put themselves on a different level, thinking they were not to follow the same words we heard from them?

I remember once helping a second-grade class get ready for Reconciliation, I was trying to give examples of sins they may have done. One little girl raised her hand and asked “what if I am sinless?” I tried to help her with some things she could have done, asking her “what about fighting with your brother?” She thought for a second and replied, “well, he started it, so it is his sin!”

How many times have we tried to turn something around when it fit our purpose? How many times have we been the person in charge, the one who does the “preaching” on something, only to not follow in practice by hurting or doing harm to others?

Sometimes we can do our preaching by our actions. “... your light must shine before others ....” (Matthew 5:16). Jesus tells us we are the salt and light for the world. God has entrusted his Word to us, and we must be his witnesses. How can we do this? The gospel tells us people see our good deeds and they will also glorify God in our witness. The saints show us how important such a witness is. A beautiful example of this is Mother Teresa, now a saint, who inspired so many to serve Christ in the poor. Although we are no Mother Teresas, we can show good deeds through our daily lives. Let all see our good deeds and perhaps be inspired to glorify God.

Peace, trust, love, truth and justice. It is tough to listen for the Word of God, tougher yet, to respond. But we must use these virtues so we can move forward, practicing what we preach!