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Harsh preaching is needed for sick souls and an adornment for healthy souls.  So God commands His preachers, ". . .show my people their sins."  The priest Heli was punished by God because he was too lenient;  he lacked severity.  For this, 30,000 of his people died, also his two sons and he, himself, fell backwards and broke his neck; and the ark of the covenant was taken away from them. 

But Phineas, who exercised holy severity by striking two adulterers, was praised by the Lord: "Phineas, the priest, moved with My zeal and turned My wrath away from the people."

When sinners are rebuked for their crimes, they usually do not accept it with humility and obedience, saying: "Others also do this."  Unhappy soul.  A crowd of miserable people is a comfort to you.  Just because others go to hell, you will also go to hell?  Be humble and say:  "I know my iniquity and my sin is always before me."  Do not say:  I remain in my sin, anyway I see that sinners are not punished on earth.  This is so because their punishment is so great, it is reserved for the next life.

"God chastises the one He loves; " therefore if He does not chastise a man, He does not love him.  God punishes his children here on earth so that they may not be punished in hell.

Accept what is preached to you even if it is bitter and harsh.  Medicines are usually bitter and harsh.

Preachers cannot always cure with tenderness and flatteries but sometimes they must be harsh.

When one is sick, he goes to the doctor; but why is it that when the soul is sick we do not seek the spiritual director but instead seek a flatterer?  Doctors do not always cure their patients; but Christ's commands always cure the soul.  So why does the body seek medicine even at great expense but neglect the medicine of the soul when it is even free?  Because we care more for the body than the soul.  

Seek, therefore, for harsh preachings because this cures the soul. 

St. Caesarius of Arles:  Sermo 5







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