All Christians through baptism are preachers of the Word. Saint Paul says, “all of us who possess the first fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.” What he is saying is that everything we do, everything we think and say belongs to Christ and through us He communicates to the world.
When we sow the seed of the Word, we rarely see the effects of that sowing. We can look back on our own lives and remember people who affected us and yet they will never know how much they changed us; old teachers, our parents, priests, former classmates, coworkers. We too have an effect on people’s lives without knowing it.
The author H.L.Gee tells the story of an old man named Thomas. Thomas sat in the back of Church everyday, not bothering anyone, never surrounded by friends or family. He sat alone day after day in the same seat, the same pew.
Finally, the author noticed the pew empty: Thomas had died. The author felt badly that no one would attend his funeral, so he took himself to the cemetery, there he saw a soldier, alone, standing by the grave, crying. The wind blew the soldier’s coat up and revealed a general’s uniform. As he was about to leave, the general gave old Thomas one last salute.
The two men left the cemetery together. The general said: I guess you’re wondering what I am doing here. Well, years ago Tom was my Sunday school teacher; I was a pretty bad kid growing up and tortured the poor man every chance I got. He never knew how much he changed my life though through his patience, his kindness, his quiet manner. I owe everything I am or will be to that man and today, I had to come and salute him.
Thomas never realized how much he had affected the general’s life. No person ever does. As disciples, Jesus works through us, no matter how unworthy we think we are.
Today we live in an age of instant gratification and quick communications, but in sowing the seed, we must not forget to cultivate in the Lord’s vineyard with patience, hope and trust that the seed we sow will be rich only when left for the Lord to harvest. It is after all God’s work we do, not our own. Isaiah told us: “so the word that goes forth from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.”
As disciples, we are preachers of the Word. It is something we cannot avoid. It is who we are. We belong to Christ and through us, He communicates to the world.