Missa – Homilia
The Liturgy of the Word has its own “communion”. It follows the Gospel reading, which is the climax of the first part of the mass and as the Priest proclaims “The Gospel of the Lord”, the congregation responds with “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!” and then takes a seat as bread is broken.
The bread and communion we most often think of, in relation to Christianity, is the Body and Blood; which in the catholic church, is the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist. But did you know that the Sacred Scriptures are also understood as “bread”? They are broken open and distributed at every mass in the readings, as seen from the last several posts, when it is read and sung; and especially as we stand for the very Gospel. And then comes a communion of sorts as we sit to hear the Homily.
The word “homily” comes from Greek (homilia) and means to have “communion” or a “verbal intercourse” with another. It is an interaction with the Written Word, and it comes to us in the manner of a small sermon. The homily explains, explores, and breaks down the scriptures for us, and can come in the form of a parable, an admonishment, a commentary or expository. What I have noticed is that it really depends on the priest or deacon who is giving it. Some are funny and use humor, others more serious. Some dig into history and lives of saints, while others focus on modern issues and world events and how the church should respond. Homilies can focus on morals, ethics, or doctrine as it explains the Scriptures. Whatever the style or manner, it is this “communion”, which takes the written Word of God and moves it into the hearts of the church through this most ancient form of preaching.
29. When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, all must listen with reverence to the readings from God’s word, for they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred Scripture God’s word is addressed to all people of every era and is understandable to them, nevertheless, a fuller understanding and a greater effectiveness of the word is fostered by a living commentary on the word, that is, the Homily, as part of the liturgical action.
:From the General Instruction of the Roman Missal