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Good sermon, Father
Posting Date: 06-11-2013


The following column was written by Kathleen T. Choi who writes “In Little Ways” for The Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Honolulu. It is reprinted with permission.

Dear Father X,

Every Sunday, as we walk out the door, we shake your hand and say, “Good sermon, Father.” We’re not lying. We’re usually fairly satisfied with what you have to say, but no one is perfect. Even Kobe Bryant misses the occasional easy layup.
You studied preaching in seminary, and presumably your professors gave you tips. We wonder, though, if you know what the average person in the pew is looking for in a homily. Maybe you’d appreciate some feedback. If so, here are some thoughts for your consideration.
First off, your sermon is very important to us. We know that we should read the Bible on our own and maybe participate in a prayer or study group. That’s not possible right now, though, so your homily is basically all the religious instruction we get. Please make it your priority. We understand that you have many demands on your time, but we’re not asking for a 30-minute Billy Graham production. The Vatican says a homily should be about eight minutes long, and that sounds good to us.
One reason we don’t read the Bible on our own is that some passages are confusing. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree for not producing fruit when it wasn’t the season for fruit? Why did Paul send the runaway slave back to his owner? Isn’t slavery wrong?
So, if the Sunday lessons include a difficult passage, please help us understand it. We don’t need a long history lesson, but we appreciate a little background. John 10 makes so much more sense now that you’ve explained how shepherds made a circle of stones, led the sheep inside and lay across the opening to protect them through the

night. That is just like Jesus laying down his life for us. Thanks.
Many books on how to give a speech suggest opening with a joke. That’s not necessary, especially if you don’t normally crack jokes. On the other hand, people always like stories. That’s probably why Jesus told so many. If you’ve got a good story that illustrates your point, we’d love to hear it.
Some priests claim that Protestant ministers have the edge in storytelling because they’re usually married with children. True, but you grew up in a home with parents and siblings. You went to school. You have friends and favorite sports teams. Surely you’ve seen how God acts in everyday circumstances. Tell us about that.
The story doesn’t have to be about you. It can be something you saw on TV or overheard while shopping. For example, Pope Francis recently preached on Luke 24 (the road to Emmaus). He said some people spend so much time complaining about life’s disappointments that they don’t notice Jesus is walking beside them. That’s a clear, simple illustration of how a Scripture passage applies to our everyday life.
We like knowing something about your personal faith, but spare us your pet peeves. Don’t make every homily about the evils of abortion or how we should all tithe. Don’t scold us. Don’t grumble about the people who don’t come to church. We’re here, aren’t we?
Theology is important, but, honestly, we spend very little time pondering the Trinity or the mystery of transubstantiation. Mostly, we worry about our kids, our parents and our jobs. We struggle to forgive those who have hurt us. We wonder why the world is such a mess. We feel guilty that we don’t do more for others. Show us how Christ can help us with these issues right now, and we’ll bless your name. Who knows? We might even tithe.
Respectfully,
Your Parishioners

 
 
 
05-12-2015 - Making a difference: "Peace be with you"
05-12-2015 - MORAL THEOLOGY Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: The Penalty Stage
05-12-2015 - Praying for Those Not of This Fold - An Open Letter to Roman Catholic Bishops
05-26-2015 - Spirituality - Artificial Light
05-26-2015 - What will Pope Francis say in upcoming Encyclical?
05-26-2015 - MAKING A DIFFERENCE - The courageous witness of Blessed Oscar Romero
05-26-2015 - The Treasure in a Field
Highlights
Sections - Youth & Young Adults
Theology on Tap Reviving Young Adult Catholics in the Silicon Valley

A Special Evening with Bishop McGrath

News - In The Diocese
ADA Exceeds 2015 Goal; Still Time to Contribute

Celebrating Lay Ecclesial Ministry

Bishop Daly Spokane

Institute for Leadership in Ministry Graduates Class of 2015

Bishop Patrick J. McGrath has made the following appointments:

Celebrating the Nature of God

Saying Farewell to Bishop Thomas A. Daly

Farewell Homily of Bishop Thomas A. Daly

A Bittersweet Farewell to Bishop Daly

Sections - Spirituality
No matter what you seek in life, keep Christ close

Issues of marriage, sexuality should not threaten ecumenism

Seminarian Ryan Mak reflects on his own journey of faith

News - Community
Catholic Cemeteries- A Place of Stories, Strength and Solace

Violence Affects Us All

CRS Rice Bowl Grant Process Opens

The Way of Vocation

Marthas Kitchen 'feeding the hungry with dignity'

San Jose Symphonic Choir Performs Benjamin Brittens War Requiem as a Gift of Peace for the Community

Mothers - memories, lessons learned

Nominations Sought for Prestigious 2015 St. Thomas More Award

What can we do about Child Poverty in Silicon Valley?

Grand Opening of Santee Community Garden and Open Space

Sections - Catholic Schools
Bellarmine Food Drive Yields Equivalent of 17,000 Meals

Sacred Heart Robotics reaches the Top 50 at the 2015 VEX Worlds Robotics Championship

St. John Vianney receives awards at Tech Challenge

St. Christopher's 4th Grade Visits the Peralta Adobe

The Bible - The Foundation of Learning at Queen of Apostles

Student Group Demonstrates How Faith can be Relevant

Students at St. Mary Los Gatos Help Get on the Bus

Saint Simon Students support Operation Rice Bowl during Lent

Saint Francis holds successful International Showcase

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren visits Archbishop Mitty High School

St. Lucy Athletes Run Like Lightning

In the Name of Message, Community & Service

Fifth graders at Queen of Apostles take a hands-on-approach to eduction

DSJ formally names South County Catholic High School - Saint John XXIII College Preparatory

Sections - Commentary
What will Pope Francis say in upcoming Encyclical?

The Treasure in a Field

Making a difference: "Peace be with you"

MORAL THEOLOGY Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: The Penalty Stage

Praying for Those Not of This Fold - An Open Letter to Roman Catholic Bishops

News - CNS News
Blessed Teresas Canonization in 2016 only Hypothetical, says Vatican

Catholic Archbishop Teaches the Quran to Christians, Muslims alike

U.S. Trappist Monks say Beer Brewing Enhances American Monastic Life

Europe Struggles to Find Solution to Increasing Migrant Crisis

Pope: Love of sports doesn't mean 'timeout' from church, friends, poor

Schoendienst quietly lives his faith, serves as mentor to young players

Canonizing Blessed Serra is call to new evangelization

Baltimore prays for peace, progress in addressing systemic injustices

Week after quake, trucks of aid begin reaching remote areas of Nepal

Sections - Spanish News
Despedida de Obispo Thomas Daly

Graduados del ILM Clase de 2015

Nuevo comienzo para Katy Meister

Despedida de obispo Thomas A. Daly

Sections - Letters
Real Marriage is not a Dance

Guest Commentary on Bullying.

Articles on Year of Consecrated Life

 
   
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