Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What is the Sermon or Homily Meant to Do?

Question number six: When the priest talks about political issues in the sermon I don't feel comfortable. During the sermon is it permissible to talk about political issues and not the words of the Scripture?

First, the professor reminds us what a sermon, or a  homily is to be. It is not to explain the readings of the Mass, and not the place for the priest to give us his private thoughts gathered in meditation. The sermon is to have the light of the Gospel explain and proclaim what we have in the world. The readings of the Mass are proclaiming to us today and to our community what God is saying. There are two important  aspects to the Gospel. One are the words of God and the other is the reality in which we live. If the sermon has no relevance to our lives, it may be easy to accept, but if that is all we want, we need to examine ourselves.

God's word gives comfort, encourages, and at the same time invites us to repentance and to change. At times it makes us feel uncomfortable. Our stubbornness begins to weaken and we are invited to repentance, to change our way of living. Sermons at times should make us feel uncomfortable.

Sermons are not only addressed to the individual but also to the community. At times it is directed to the individual and to a  personal change in life, at other times to a change in the life of the community or society. When we have difficulty with this we have to examine ourselves to see if we have a too individualistic understanding of our Christian calling. Jesus did not only talk about individual salvation but the building up of the kingdom of God. We are being directed by the will of God, this is the politics of God.

When the directions of this world's politics are contrary to what we understand to be God's will, we have the duty and right to make this known in our preaching.

Here it is necessary to make clear that abuses do not take away the use. The Latin phrase: Abusus non tollit usum-- abuse does not take away the use: a truth we need to understand. We do have abuses in what is said, exaggerations and mistakes but we have the good sense to distinguish between what is a good and how certain individuals may go to extremes. We don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water. We see this fallacy over and over as a reason to be against. Human faults  we will always have, but we also need to have the good sense to distinguish between truth, and the way it is some times expressed.

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