The first reading, an admonition to those who proclaim the Word of God, is an interesting Palm Sunday reading as we set out feet on the journey of Holy Week. Unfortunately, few homilists have a well-trained tongue. I’ve been listening to various on line Masses, and the preaching is worse than I had imagined. This is a sign that Catholics do not attend Mass for the homily, but they really come for the Eucharist. I completely understand why homiletics classes in major seminaries strongly recommend a homily between 8-10 minutes. Yet, then when the homilists do open their mouths it is very rarely to rouse the weary; too often the open mouth is filled with scorn, finger pointing, and putting people down. It’s really and truly awful.

This situation arises when then Church values legality more than an authentic life in Christ. The homilist is tempted to print out some generic homily from the internet and safely read it to the people. There’s no heart in it. I know this because for seven years I traveled and preached for the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (now renamed to Unbound!) nd Sunday after Sunday (317 parishes in those seven years) the ambo had the last weekend internet printout of a homily. We now live in a very weary time of fear and anxiety. People need a word to rouse them. At the end of this Hoy Week the word will be Alleluia, which we haven’t heard since before Ash Wednesday.

Next, note that the Word come from listening to the cry of the poor, the weary, the refugee. This word never come from the political elite of the day. So the homily must begin in listening. It is this listening that sets our face like flint, because in the voices of the weary we hear the voice of God calling to us.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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