Today I need to take this note in a very different direction than my usual. To begin, here is a quote from the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (2010) which we implemented on the 1st Sunday of Advent last year and in which the new translation of the Mass is published. The following quote is from Chapter 2, titled: “The Statement of the Mass, its Elements and its Parts.
“The Homily is part of the liturgy and is highly recommended, for it is necessary for the nourishing of the Christian life. It should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the needs of the listeners.
The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating priest or from time to time and, if appropriate, the Deacon…
On Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every Mass…”
That the homily must be drawn exclusively from the text of the Mass and from the Old and New Testament reading (and, of course, especially from the Gospel of the day) is not a recent innovation. It clearly is evident in the preaching of St. Peter as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter proclaimed again and again. Christ crucified and risen, and the practice continued through the earliest documented Sunday Homilies of the Church Fathers like Augustine, John Chrysostom, Ephraim, et al). These first homilies established a deeply Scriptural focus that continues to be revered and honored in the Catholic Church to this day.
Some Christian denominations have a tradition of engaging in political discourse and disputes from the pulpit but that is not our tradition nor should it be our practice.
As pastor and as the celebrant of our Sunday and daily liturgy I am responsible for assuring that the homily always is faithful to the Scripture readings and does not stray from that days’ Scripture into any other areas. Please trust that I will be much more diligent in fulfilling that responsibility in the future. And please accept my heartfelt apology for my failure to do so recently and for the pain and harm to members of our parish community that resulted from that failure. As our “Welcome” on the bulletin cover says: “The soul of wildly varied and thoroughly Chicago neighborhood, St. Matthias welcomes everyone.” Or as Jesus said to the Pharisees: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27