The First Reading skips a part that I think is quite important. St Paul said some indeed, even out of envy and contention: but some also for good will preach Christ. Some out of charity, knowing that I am set for the defence of the Gospel. And some out of contention preach Christ not sincerely: supposing that they raise affliction to my imprisonment. For Paul the most important thing is Christ is proclaimed in every day, whether out of false motives or true, and in that I rejoice. For St Paul, the motive for preaching does not matter. What matters is Christ is preached. We cannot judge the intent of a person but we can see the action and the result. For St Paul, he said some preach Christ to make his imprisonment worse, yet he said this does not matter.
The Psalm today says my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. This is what people feel today. They hunger for the Word. They thirst for the Word which is why Christ has to be preached because only Christ can satisfy this hunger, only Christ can satisfy this thirst.
Many preach themselves, thinking this is what people want to hear. When I have this attitude, then I think I know better than St Paul. I think my ideas are better than the Gospel, my message is better than the message of Christ. This exalts myself.
When this happens, God will humble me. Let us be realistic. Look at religious communities. Some communities were growing in the 1900’s and died after the 1960’s because they have neglected to preach the Gospel and instead, preached about things that are not Christ. They want to be exalted by people and be popular, but the result is a dying community with no vocation. But those communities that remain faithful to the Gospel, are growing. New communities, faithful to Christ are being established and grow, because they humbled themselves to God and prefer to be exalted by God rather than human beings.
People come to worship Christ, not to be entertained at mass. People come to hear the Gospel, not self-serving homilies. People come to see Jesus, not gimmicks or a performance of the mass. People want Jesus so we need to preach Jesus! When I preach something else, I exalt myself over God and God will humble me. St Paul tells the Philippians he wants to share abundantly in your boasting in Christ Jesus. We boast only of the Lord and nothing else.
Lord, I thirst for you. Many people thirst for you. Let me proclaim YOU to those who seek you. Never let me think of proclaiming anything else, but you.