Preaching the Just Word

Walter Burghardt

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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.

Walter J. Burghardt, S.J., is a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center, Washington, D.C., and founder and director of "Preaching the Just Word," a series of five-day retreat/workshops across the United States aimed at improving the preaching of justice issues. During a long and distinguished career, he has been editor of Theological Studies, taught at Woodstock College, the Catholic University of America, and other institutions, been a member and officer of numerous theological societies, and written or edited more than twenty books. He was recently named in Newsweek magazine as one of the twelve best preachers in the world.

A selection of the Catholic Book Club

"A master preacher and theologian, Burghardt models a synthesis of theology and homiletics that grounds the pursuit of social justice in the Church's tradition."—Publishers Weekly

"Burghardt's scholarship and passion are a rich resource for preachers of any denomination."—Michael W. Spangler, Christian Century

"A fresh look at biblical social justice in scripture, in tradition and in human need, always with an eye on what it means for preaching and with insight into the human condition in today's world. . . . Burghardt's points can be paralleled in almost every other nation and every preacher worth his or her salt would want to work them out for himself or herself anyway. If Catholics find it new and Protestants find it familiar both will find it refreshing, and preachers of all traditions will profit from reading it and even more from taking it into their system."—Alec Gilmore, Theological Book Review

"Burghardt is a first-rate intellectual. For both scholars and pastors, this book provides a very practical guide for the ministry of Preaching the Just Word. . . . For Burghardt, the homily is the primary catalyst that calls people to respond to the issues of injustice that confront society. For the priest whose first responsibility so clearly stated by Vatican II is to preach the Word, this book is a must."—Rev. Michael P. Orsi, St. Anthony Messenger

"The book is well written (and, incidentally, well produced). There is nothing casual or slipshod about it, yet it is free from highfalutin expressions and complicated sentence-structures. . . . This is a book from which Christians (especially preachers) of all traditions will receive instruction and inspiration."—G.W.S. Knowles, Expository Times

"Like all good preaching, [this book is] about growth as much as about discipline, it's about an invitation to meet God in the marketplace as much as in our prayers."—Church

"A treasure for those who know how to use it."—Church

"The reader will find much useful and inspirational material here."—Richard C. Stern, Worship

"A book well worth reading."—Clergy Journal

"In this little treasure the preacher will be challenged, instructed, provoked, and refreshed. I recommend it for a place on any preacher's shelf. In fact, before it finds its way to my shelf, I think I'm going to read it again."—Timothy V. Olson, Trinity Seminary Review

"Burghardt's book should be essential reading for Roman Catholic students and secondary reading for Protestants, if only because his material is so geared to his own church."—Paul Scott Wilson, Homiletic

"Based on his 1994 Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale Divinity School, Burghardt's inspiring book will serve as an excellent resource for preachers. . . . He offers wise counsel to preachers who address controversial social and religious issues, such as assisted suicide and the role of women in Roman Catholic Church. . . . This paperback edition will appeal widely to pastors, theologians, students of religion, and preachers of all religious traditions. The eloquent voice of Burghardt's own preaching can be heard on nearly every page."—Francis T. Hannafey, Religious Studies Review

"An interesting and scholarly work. . . . Burghardt was recently named as one of the twelve most effective preachers in the English-speaking world, and the present book undoubtedly confirms his entitlement to such an accolade."—Faith and Freedom

ISBN: 9780300077216
Publication Date: October 11, 1998
160 pages, 5 1/2 x 9