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Preaching: method - 08

St Augustine : St Augustine statue Brisbane, Australia
St Augustine statue
Brisbane, Australia

The sermons of Augustine are full of emphasis upon the shared humanity of himself and his hearers.
In one sermon he said, "We beg that our debts may be forgiven us. For debtors we are, not in money, but in sins."
"You are saying possibly at this moment, And you too? We answer, Yes, we too. What, you Holy Bishops, are you debtors? Yes we are debtors too."
" What you, my lord. Be it far from you, do not yourself this wrong. I do myself no wrong, but I say the truth; we are debtors."
It was this shared humanity that made his sermons so filled with the call for his hearers to be reformed and born again.
In his First Homily on the Gospel of John, Augustine refers to the ability of the Word to create the world.
He applies this to the lives of his hearer life with an encouragement that the Word of God can also remake those who have unmade themselves and to recreate those who have made themselves worse.
Augustine had the ability to understand the common substance that he and his listeners shared.
He could identify with them not only in word but also in deed.
This made them so willing to be not simply hearers of the word but persons who actually live it.
An example of this is given as Augustine relates an incident that occurred while preaching. In the middle of his preaching he launched into a different subject that was completely unintended.
A day or two later Augustine was approached by a stranger, Firmus, who told him that he had been won over by the strength of the arguments of Augustine.
Augustine discovered that Firmus was referring to what for Augustine had been his diversion from his intended subject.
The man, Augustine says, sold his business and later became a priest.
Those who heard him week after week, at times day after day, and had their lives transformed, stand as the lasting witness to the view of Augustine about preaching.
The listeners to Augustine were often swept up by the his gifted words - applauding, weeping, cheering or shouting out Bible verses as Augustine preached.

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