We often think of the homily as a time to learn, as in attending a class on some subject necessary to understand God. Yet, in my formation towards the diaconate it was stressed that the pulpit is not the place to teach, but to exhort the path to God through the Church and then attend classes later to learn the meaning of the preaching.
Jesus went about the region from Galilee to Jerusalem and surrounding areas praising His Father and the Love the Father has for us. However, as a sign of God’s Love and Forgiveness, Jesus showed by example what those attributes were by healing, forgiving, and explaining the failures of the “Teachers of the Law”. He never lessened His place with His Father, yet He exemplified what His Father meant by putting into practice the way to share the Father’s Generosity of Mercy by becoming the Chief Shepherd for the flock. He taught by doing, first, then proclaimed the Kingdom.
St. James, refuted the thought that only by faith and not by works are we saved. However, from chapter 2, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and if one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Js. 2 14-17).
Our Mass is divided, equally, into two Liturgies. The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. As a teacher, I have learned to present to my students a premise of theories and specifics related to the subject matter. That would come under the title of preaching or presenting as much historical fact relegated by years of research from many learned persons who put all of this together in printed form. Then as a teacher, my task is to unveil the sometimes deep prothesis and present in an understandable fashion what these prominent persons have assembled for posterity by their intellect and experimentation.
Again, when Jesus went about spreading the Good News related to His mission, He called men to follow Him. He then taught by example, such as catching many fish which would become a theme presented to Peter, showing how much His Father loved us by accepting and loving prostitutes, tax collectors, and Samaritans. He showed by example, in a way that the most intellectually challenged person could readily grasp by seeing what the Father’s Mercy looked like.
There are some preachers that exhort and teach at the same time. However, they do not have the most relevant criterion of celebrating i.e. “This is My Body” as in the Transubstantiation we have in the Holy Mass. Only in the Mass is there time for presenting who God is, leaving the opportunity for the congregants to seek the explanation from teachers. The presence and reception of the Holy Eucharist is the second Liturgy; the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Somehow, those who are not Roman Catholic appear to have it all (in words alone), but do not even come close to a complete celebration since they are missing what we enjoy with the Real Presence of the Risen Christ on our altars.
We are fed, with words, community, and the Body and Blood of Christ each time we attend Mass. That is worth more than just teaching, which is important, but to miss out on sharing Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent to show us the way to Him is worth more than one who is not Roman Catholic may understand.
Listen to the Word of the Lord. Seek it’s meaning always. Be thankful you are part of the Roman Catholic Community, and have the privilege of always receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”
(Jn. 6: 54).
Ralph B. Hathaway November 2018