We have had a visiting priest filling in for our pastor the last couple of Sundays I've been home to go to Mass here in Gig Harbor. Both Sunday's his homilies have been under four minutes. Now compared to the twenty to thirty minute homilies we usually get that is not much time. What's interesting is the quality of communication depends upon content and delivery more then then the volume of words used. There is nothing more boring then an attempt at a homily by an unprepared preacher who uses words to fill available time.
So, that brings me back to the visiting priest. Last sunday his homily dealt with all of the good the Catholic church does that goes unappreciated while exceptions such as priest abuse dominate the media. He concluded his short talk with what he said was a Chinese proverb: When a forest grows, no one hears it, but when one tree falls it makes a lot of noise. His homily was short, organized, to the point and capped with an appropriate proverb.
This morning his homily was about four minutes at most. Here was the substance of his short homily: He said people regard the Catholic church as a "nay saying " church because it says no to abortion, no to same sex marriage and no to stem cell experimentation. But , he said, it says no because we have no choice since we follow the will of God. Our faith is not based upon majority decisions, but rather the teachings of God. There is a proverb that says when a whole villiage rushes towards a precipice, the one man who runs the other way is called crazy.
Now my point isn't about whether you agree with his position or content of his talk. My point is that a lot can be said in a very short time especially if it is illustrated by a metaphor, analogy or proverb. This man has said more in four minutes then the preachers who preceded him said in twenty or thirty minutes. This is consistent with my observation about television series featuring trials. A wonderful cross examination is given in under three minutes. A final argument that is persuasive in less then four minutes. There is a real object lesson for those of us who make our living communicating.