Amy Welborn asked a good question on her blog: “What makes a good homily?” and one of the replies got me to thinking. The essence of a good homily, the question that should be written at the top of the homilist’s notepad is: “What must I do to have eternal life?” If the homilist would start with that question, you can pretty much guarantee you’re going to have a good homily. Sure you can talk about background of the readings, and about difficult Church teachings, and issues of the day in the parish or in the world. But as long as those topics are oriented around that one question, it will remain on target.
I guess it seems kind of self-evident now that I’ve written it, but how many homilies have you heard that rambled from thing to thing, weaving in personal anecdotes, thoughts on the news of the day, and all kinds of other drivel. At a parish I visited, I once had to sit through a 10-minute presentation by the chairman of the finance council on all the monetary needs of the parish. Not helping me to have eternal life. Do that before or after Mass.
Just as I receive nourishment for eternal life in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, so too I wish to receive that nourishment in the Liturgy of the Word, not just from the Scripture readings, but from their exposition as well. Doesn’t the Word deserve at least that much? Don’t we?