• Fr. Tom Wyrsch

From the Pastor's Pen - What is Homily?


WHAT IS A HOMILY? I write about this since we have another change in priests here. And, through it all, we still have two priests and two deacons who preach, plus visitors, each with his own styles and strengths. I thought I’d describe what you can always look for in a homily, no matter who is preaching. SO:

A homily is; the best effort of the preacher, after study of the Gospel and scripture texts, reflection, and prayer, to deliver a message inspired by the Holy Spirit to this congregation at this particular time, so that the congregation lives a deeper, freer, more joyful Gospel life.

Then the work of the congregation members begins. Because a homily is not: A listing of all the causes and interests of the congregation members. Having established the core message that is being delivered, the preacher will usually give one or more example applications of the message to daily living, i.e. family issues, health/finances, social concerns, especially the work of rebuilding the world in Christ. It’s not possible to speak all the applications relevant to each one living out that message. That is for you to fill in, and for yourself. Because a homily is also not: A message you hope those around you hear, in family and community, and change their ways. We can tell this many times when someone suggests we should say more about (whatever) in the homilies—a personal moral issue, or an urge toward certain charity, justice, or prayer actions. These will be covered over time. But it’s obvious that the one asking is quite strong in that area, and that they want to alter the behavior of other people. It’s quite possible that person has missed how this gospel message calls them to change, and live a deeper life of prayer and charity.

In sum, here’s how to experience better and better homilies: do your part. Be an active listener as the homily is preached, and ask yourself how I can use this message to be more free, trusting, and loving. Only you can fill in the bulk of the practical effects.

And when we are dismissed in peace, go out and do the work that’s been opened up for you. And tell us preachers what hit home that helped to do this.


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