Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 20, 2020
PEOPLE have been asking me
about how the homily in the Mass should be. I, of course, find it
difficult to answer that question, knowing that behind that question
are often critical observations people make, and that every priest
has his own style, has his own merits and limits which should be
But what I can say is
that, first of all, the homily is an integral part of the Mass, and
as much as possible, should not be omitted, especially on Sundays
and holy days of obligation. It should be given its due importance
and understood properly by both the priests and the faithful
attending the Mass.
Pope Francis said that the
homily “is not a casual discourse, nor a conference or a lesson, but
a way of ‘taking up anew that dialogue which has already been opened
between the Lord and his people.’” In other words, the homily is a
continuing dialogue that Christ initiates with the people, applying
the perennials truths of faith to the current circumstances of the
The homily is not
therefore some kind of class or lecture, but rather Christ
continuing his redemptive work on us, inspiring and edifying us.
Pope Francis said that priests should deliver good homilies so that
the “Good News” of the Gospel can take root in people’s hearts and
help them live holier lives.
What is clear is that the
priests in delivering the homily should be very conscious that he is
assuming the very person of Christ as head of the Church. He has to
project and channel Christ there, not himself. He should be careful
not to “steal the spotlight” from Christ.
And the priest should be
most aware that he is speaking to the people with the view of
helping them to become more and more like Christ, who is pattern of
our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. He is not there
to entertain them, or to give them a class.
While the priest, of
course, can and should make full use of whatever would help the
people to listen to him during the homily, the net effect should be
that it is Christ whom the people listen, and not just him. The
priest should regularly examine himself if such is the case when he
delivers the homily.
In this regard, it might
be helpful to make use of some words of St. John the Baptist who
said, “He (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3,30) Or
some words of St. Paul who said, “It is no longer who lives but
Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)
The priest should find a
way of how he can put these words into his life, into his over-all
attitude toward things, and especially when he is giving the homily.
He should know well the art of passing unnoticed so that only Christ
would shine out.
Indeed, he has to spend
time meditating on how he can assume the mind and the presence of
Christ wherever he is and especially when he is celebrating the Holy
Mass and giving the homily.
He should try his best
never to depart from this state of mind, since he is already
sacramentally conformed to Christ head of the Church whether he is
saying Mass, walking in the street, or doing sport, etc.
Yes, he has to spend time
studying the gospel thoroughly so that he can truly incarnate it in
himself and express it in ways that can really present Christ who
would like to continue his redemptive dialogue with the people of
There should never be room
for improvisation. And when for some reason one is caught unprepared
because of some emergency situation, he should implore the Holy
Spirit to guide him, and let the tremendous wonder of the Spirit
speaking through him take place.