Gospel is Circular and Too Difficult?

Back in May, God told me to go back to church. I haven’t been to church for nearly 25 years and really did not want to go. But I felt like I really needed to hear Jesus’ words at this point in my life. So I was really looking forward to hearing the homily that I hoped would address the gospel. Boy I was wrong.

The first sunday that I went, 5/21, the gospel was John 14:15-21:
"If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.
I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you. In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you.
Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him."

I was excited about this gospel because I needed to hear this at this point in my life when I felt most abandoned. I waited patiently for the homily expecting the deacon (not a priest, which is another issue I have for another post) to address the gospel and how it applies to life.

Well, the deacon said “I’m not going to talk about the gospel.” And proceeded to talk about something that had nothing to do with the readings. I zoned out at that point and asked God why did you send me to church where they don’t even talk about Jesus’ words?

The next Sunday I figured the previous week was an aberration and that maybe the actual priest this time would talk about the gospel in the homily (as I remembered they did back 25 years ago). This sunday 5/28 was the ascension of Jesus (John 17:1-11):
"After saying this, Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; so that, just as you have given him power over all humanity, he may give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him. And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me with that glory I had with you before ever the world existed. I have revealed your name to those whom you took from the world to give me. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
Now at last they have recognised that all you have given me comes from you for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have indeed accepted it and know for certain that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.
It is for them that I pray. I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All I have is yours and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified.
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us."

The ascension of Jesus! Surely, the homily would talk about such an important event. Nope. Again, the same deacon (not a priest), said “I’m not going to talk about the gospel because it’s too circular and difficult. I’m going to talk about my facebook page and my daughters instead.”

Oh, my Lord! Too circular! Too difficult! That gospel could not have been any clearer. Even, I, as a woman and not a priest or deacon who can become a pseudo-married priest, could easily have prepared a homily addressing the words of Jesus to his Father as he ascends into heaven. Where is the circularity? Where is the difficulty? Was it just me? Probably.

I never returned to that church. I haven’t been back to church since even though God put it on my heart to go to church. I need to hear the words of Jesus, not the words of deacon and his daughter’s facebook page. When did Jesus’ words disappear from homilies?

I guess I’m just sorely disappointed and don’t know why God would lead me back to such a church that finds Jesus too difficult and circular. I’ve been praying by myself and maybe someday I will go to another church but I don’t know…

I pray that God blesses you.

Not all deacons or priests give good sermons or homilies. Some do give good moral teaching and guidance, even if they don’t directly touch on the readings. I, too, desire good commentary on the readings of the day, though. Tie those readings together for me, Father! Give me something profound!

I hope you do find a Church that frequently gives such homilies. But oftentimes we must work with what we have. You cam find good reflections on the readings of the day outside of Mass. There is a Catholic phone app called Laudate which has a section for reflections each and every daily reading. Scott Hahn posts weekly reading reflections for each Sunday on his stpaulcenter.com. I’m sure other recommendations will follow.

Whatever the skills involved in the preaching, remember that you still hear the words of Jesus in scripture. I can only suggest returning to Mass, as it’s there you’ll find what’s most important: the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the sacrafice of Cavalry made present before you. The quality of the sermon/homily does not affect this.

First of all, don’t be discouraged by one deacon’s misuse of the homily time. If he hasn’t prepared to talk about the Gospel reading (unless some other topic actually more important at the time, although that should be so rare as to be nearly non-existent), then he should just give a short reflection and leave it at that.

Actually, reading the Gospel and giving the homily is the deacon’s ministry. Many parishes don’t have deacons so a priest generally does it, or the priest prefers to give it or the deacon doesn’t have that faculty. Still, it’s usually the deacon’s ministry to do. Sadly, this deacon appears, from what you’ve told us, to think the homily is for his personal remarks not for commenting on the Gospel reading. His priest should talk to him about it, if this the norm for him.

You know, when God calls us to repentance and asks us to return to the practice of the Faith, the enemy of our souls is waiting to pounce on our good intentions to do just what happened to you–to discourage you from fulfilling that intention. Don’t let this dissuade you from returning to Christ’s Church.

There’s more to the Mass than the homily. While the homily is an important part of the Mass, still the Mass is not a Bible study. Rather, it is the corporate worship of God by the faithful gathered in his name. We go to Mass to worship God in spirit and in truth, to hear his word proclaimed (which we do in the readings no matter how good or bad the homily might be), and to receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist. So go desiring to worship God, as is his due, and receiving the graces of the Mass. Don’t expect to be wowed by the homily, which may be wonderful, or which could be terrible. Just go and partake as you are able and leave the rest to God.

One last comment, if you haven’t, you need to go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. In 25 years away, you must have sins to confess, and not all of them only venial, yes? :wink: Get that done and I believe you’ll find the Mass more engaging and powerful for you.

Perhaps the Spirit moved you to attend that particular church for a reason unrelated to your hearing their homilies. Though he might give mediocre homilies, perhaps the priest there is a superstar in the confessional. Who knows? Our loving God works in mysterious ways; you might have even been sent there for someone else’s benefit. This side of heaven, you may never get an explanation of why the Spirit moved you to attend that particular church. Sometimes it is best not to worry about understanding why God does some things but rather simply trust that everything the Lord does he does for your good. (See Romans 8:28)

You’ve done well to follow God and obey Him. He will show you. As you keep praying and growing closer - through Mass and the Eucharist and Confession - He will give you the answers.

***First ***- I’m happy you found your way back to Church, but you must continue to go. There are bad Deacons and Priests out there, but the majority are not. So there is no reason not to attend mass because of a deacon, priest or parish you perceive as bad.

***Second ***- According to your profile, you live in Syracuse, New York. According to Masstimes.org; there are over 30 Catholic Churches within ONLY 3.79 miles of downtown Syracuse. masstimes.org/map?lat=43.04812210000001&lng=-76.14742439999998&SearchQueryTerm=Syracuse,%20NY,%20USA

Tons more, if you go further out, so if you don’t like that parish, go to another one.

***Third ***- We go to mass for much more than simply listening to the Word of God. While that’s extremely important, we also go to Mass to take part in Jesus’s Sacrifice of the Altar.

So in closing, please do not let a homily, sermon, deacon, priest or parish that you don’t like prevent you from coming to Mass. Find a different parish if you must, but still come to mass. And since you live in an area with lots of Catholic Churches, I’m sure you find one you like. Even if you attend a different parish each Sunday for several weeks.

Make it a point to return to mass this Sunday.

God Bless

“Because you were found acceptable to God, it was necessary that testing should prove you” Tobit 12:13 (Vulgate)

God, Who has the sole right, is testing you as to your resolve to seek after him. So far, you are doing very well indeed - despite some man-made roadblocks.

Thanks for the responses. I have always felt that priests never cared too much about homilies or applying Jesus’ words to everyday life. That is one of the reasons I left the Catholic church. I always felt the mass was too rote and not enough teaching from the heart.

I simply went back to the Catholic Church because God told me to go to church and that is what I was raised in. However, I suppose church can also mean a Protestant Church. I do have an affinity for more bible study than what the Catholic Church provides.

I will keep looking for a “church” that feels right to me, be it Catholic, Protestant or otherwise. I will read and post to this forum to see if Catholicism is really for me. I may end up by myself with no church. Who knows?

Homilies are not Bible studies, although they certainly may be quite helpful. Rather, they are meant to cast light on a particular part of the Gospel that goes with the readings of the day.

I simply went back to the Catholic Church because God told me to go to church and that is what I was raised in. However, I suppose church can also mean a Protestant Church.

No offence to our Protestant brethren, but they do not have the fullness of the faith, and many have no sacraments apart from baptism, and in some even that isn’t valid. All that you need for your spiritual growth and the gaining of God’s graces you will find in the Catholic Church.

I do have an affinity for more bible study than what the Catholic Church provides.

Look for a parish that has Bible studies–many do now days. Simply call the parish office and ask. :slight_smile: Go to a Catholic bookstore (often parishes have them on the parish campus) and ask for titles relating to biblical studies. Also, do some reading of the great saints, such as Frances de Sales (who wrote to encourage lay people in the spiritual lives). Get a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn more about the faith or look up topics online: scborromeo.org/ccc.htm. The site linked has a great search engine. Also there are excellent Catholic Bible commentaries online: haydock1859.tripod.com/index.html. Haydock’s is an older commentary, but it’s filled with citations from the Early Church Fathers and other reliable scholars.

I will keep looking for a “church” that feels right to me, be it Catholic, Protestant or otherwise. I will read and post to this forum to see if Catholicism is really for me. I may end up by myself with no church. Who knows?

As another poster wrote, you live in an area with many Catholic parishes. Look into them to see which one encourages you in the faith. Make an appointment with a priest to make a good confession–after so long you will need to make the time to for it.

You have our prayers. Don’t be discouraged. God wants you back in his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

There are Catholic parishes with deacons and priests who give great homilies and which have strong bible study programs. As previously noted, if your information is accurate, you live in an area with an abundance of parishes.

The Holy Bible is the infallible Word of God. What is contained in it will be true 100% of the time. This includes the Allegory of Genesis all the way to the Prophecies of Revelations. The only thing that changes is how the Theologians of the era interpret the Holy Bible.

Sheez! May all homilies be good ones- even when I admittedly may not be listening myself :rolleyes:. The core and beauty of our faith resides in the the teachings of the Church, whether or not her members-leaders and laity alike-are getting and doing it right all the time!

This is far from the norm. Though there are some priests who do not have a charism for preaching. Their strengths are else where. But other priests do have a charism for both preaching and teaching. Perhaps your diocese or parish lack good priests, but I have to believe there is at least one good parish for your in Syracuse.

If you have never been there, try The Basilica of the Sacred Heart sacredheartbasilicasyr.org/liturgy.html. They have confession everyday and Sunday masses in English, Polish and Latin.

Assumption Parish seems nice too, and they have that Chapel in the Destiny USA mall, which offers Confession and Mass. assumptionchurchsyracuse.org/index.php?page=hours-mass-schedule

I simply went back to the Catholic Church because God told me to go to church and that is what I was raised in. However, I suppose church can also mean a Protestant Church. I do have an affinity for more bible study than what the Catholic Church provides.

If the Holy Spirit was talking to you to go back to Church, God was telling you to return to the Catholic Church. There is no coincidence that when you heard The Lord, you went to the Catholic Church. I have no doubt about that.

The homily isn’t a bible study. Catholics have bible study outside of Mass (sometimes at a parish and other times with discipleship groups).

I don’t know where you live, the here are a few of the Parishes that sponsor Bible Studies in Syracuse: Holy Family Parish, St. Charles - St. Ann Parish

Plus, there are many Catholic online and at-home Bible Studies.

I will keep looking for a “church” that feels right to me, be it Catholic, Protestant or otherwise. I will read and post to this forum to see if Catholicism is really for me. I may end up by myself with no church. Who knows?

I suggest you check out FORMED.org. FORMED is a “Catholic Netflix,” and is awesome. You can sign up for a 7 day free trial. Start with the Symbolon Series that is on there, plus movies on the saint. There are spiritual programs there (including Bible studies, Marian studies, studies on the Sacraments, Divine Mercy, etc. Plus there are movies on the saints & Popes, documentaries, audio books, an audio Bible, radio theater, spiritual talks, evangelical talks, educational talks, eBooks, and more.

Before you leave the faith, learn more about the beauty of the Catholic faith. An easy way to do that is via FORMED.org.

God Bless

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