So... if I really disagree with a homily...

It was on last week’s Gospel reading.

I just think Fr. missed something… significant.

And preached a good message in accordance with the teachings of the Church, but contrasted John the Baptist and Jesus in ways I don’t think the Gospels support.

I’m not tacking my disagreement on the doors of the church, or anything. The problem isn’t even significant enough I would want to discuss it with him - though I would if we were best buds or something but . . .

I’m intending to let it lie.

I mean, most of us can’t be right all the time, and I went over the homily in my mind, and looked up some other Gospel readings and I still think he’s not right.

But should I be concerned? For myself? For him?

OK… I decided I should say what my disagreement was.

He said John the Baptist came in like a battleship “guns blazing.” “Ye brood of vipers.”

But that wasn’t Christ. Christ preached love.

…and I had images of Christ in a temple with a whip going through my head…

IMHO, it would be better to let it lie.

Your take may be better (for you.) But there may be many in your congregation that REALLY took something from what your priest said.

I have the same problem. :blush:

I almost ALWAYS disagree with my priest’s homilies, either for missing important points, or dumbing down the message excessively, or what have you. But I always remind myself that I am not representative of everyone. A lot of our congregation do seem to profit from his sermons, especially the kids and teens (at least that is my guess.)

Of course you can always say something to him after mass in a friendly way about the point you saw. It might be appreciated, but then again who knows?

I am not sure about your situation but I know from my past experience…

When I disagree or do not understand a homily at my church I usually send Father an email asking for him to clarify the homily for me. I don’t say he is wrong, per se, but I do state what I think is right and ask him why it is not. I have never received a negative response. Actually, Father said that he likes it when I ask questions…and I have lots of questions…

I do know my paster pretty well. I have been a member there for a dozen or so years and I am active in the parish so sending an email out to him is not unusual for me.

Just ask him to “give you some insight” and you might learn something or maybe he will learn something from you.:o

Op, are you a seminarian? In school studying Catholic theology?
See what you can learn from your priest. You may be surprised.and he was talking about John the Baptist not Jesus.

You’re right - it WASN’T Christ, it was John, and it was a figure of speech, not a theological dogma. You may need to examine the filter you use in listening to homilies.

You’re right. It wasn’t Jesus who called the Pharisees and Sadducee’s a “Brood of Vipers” it was his cousin, John, named “The Baptist.” John utters this epitaph in a moment of righteous anger because these supposedly holy men were pushing their way through the crowds to be baptized – taking “cuts” as it were – but there was no way that they had ever considered repentance, and John knows it. So he calls them out. Their going to the front of the crowd was an act of arrogance, not sincerity of heart. They were using their authority to push others aside, and they were making a mockery of John’s baptism.Read the passage again. You’ll see that the Baptist has them dead to rights. He challenges their authority and takes away the props of claiming Abraham as their father. The true authority is vested in the One who is to come – Emmanuel.

You’re also right that Christ does indeed preach love, but sometimes love requires that harsh words be spoken. And lest you think that Jesus never used harsh words, look at Luke 13:32. When told by the Pharisees that King Herod is looking to have him killed, Jesus says, “Go and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am consummated” (Douay-Rheims translation).

Calling someone a “fox” is fighting words for most people – and Jesus means to have his word heard exactly as he has pronounced them. You can bet that the Pharisees went back and reported it verbatim. Herod want Jesus to stop casting out devils and healing the sick. He also doesn’t want Herod to misinterpret his final purpose – that on the third day He will be "consummated " (or as some translations have it, “perfected”). Jesus is insisting that Herod understand that He is the Christ. Calling him a “Fox,” is bound to get his attention and set the man straight in his mind about just who he is dealing with here.

I could be wrong… but I think this is more of a figure of speech

They were different in this way:

There are two main ways for a church to welcome people, and these approaches are exemplified by two figures in the Gospels …*The first you could call the “John the Baptist method,” where the church asks for conversion as a prerequisite for joining the community. Even those with scant biblical knowledge can easily conjure up an image of John the Baptist, a fiery prophet wearing a camel-hair garments and eating locusts, passionately calling people to a “baptism of repentance,” as the Gospel of Mark has it.
Conversion meant a change of heart and a change of life that oriented one toward God. Only then were people ready to enter the reign of God. For John the Baptist, it was conversion first, community second.

In the story of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus spies a man named Zacchaeus perched high in a sycamore tree. He was the chief tax collector in the region, which at the time would have also meant that he was considered the “chief sinner” in the region, since he was colluding with the hated Roman authorities. Jesus calls up to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today!” Zacchaeus shinnies down the tree and repents, saying that that he will repay anyone he has defrauded “four times as much.”
Jesus’s offer of welcome prompted Zacchaeus’s change of heart. For Jesus, it was community first, conversion second.

My apologies, I wasn’t clear… my Priest’s point was John was the battleship and Christ was a lighthouse… Christ was love.

…But I see Christ bringing a sword in the Gospels. A sword and love. And justice.

He’s been very disturbed by the divisions from the recent US elections, I think that was where this came from.

A couple weeks ago he preached an awesome homily with a myth about how Satan clawed the Earth and created divisions, and the angels made bridges to span the divides, and to try to knock the angels into the chasms and widen the divides is the work of the devil.

I think that’s where he’s coming from. Our church, like our nation is divided.

Unless he disagrees with the teaching of the Church, I would forget it.
Sometimes I think that what the priest says about Scripture really isn’t so, bit I soon forget it. Perhaps he didn’t have time to check out what he said.

I see Christ bringing mercy in the Gospels. I suggest reading Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Dives in Miesericordia. Here are a couple of quotes from it:

“In this way, mercy is in a certain sense contrasted with God’s justice, and in many cases is shown to be not only more powerful than justice but also more profound. Even the Old Testament teaches that, although justice is an authentic virtue in man, and in God signifies transcendent perfection nevertheless love is ‘greater’ than justice: greater in the sense that it is primary and fundamental. Love, so to speak, conditions justice and, in the final analysis, justice serves love. The primacy and superiority of love vis-a-vis justice–this is a mark of the whole of revelation–are revealed precisely through mercy. This seemed so obvious to the psalmists and prophets that the very term justice ended up by meaning the salvation accomplished by the Lord and His mercy.”

“Especially through His lifestyle and through his actions, Jesus revealed that love is present in the world in which we live–an effective love, a love that addressed itself to man and embraces everything that makes up his humanity. This love makes itself particularly noticed in contact with suffering, injustice and poverty–in contact with the whole historical ‘human condition,’ which in various ways manifests man’s limitation and frailty, both physical and moral. It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called ‘mercy.’
On the basis of this way of manifesting the presence of God who is Father, love and mercy, Jesus makes mercy one of the principal themes of His preaching.”

It is well worth the read. Do you not see Christ as love? Do you not see Christ as proclaiming the Kingdom of God is at hand? That the gathering of the tribes has begun? I see Christ in the Gospels as calling us, as gathering us, as extending his mercy to us, meeting us where we are and calling us to Himself. Of course we have to accept.

Do you really disagree with the comparison of Christ as a lighthouse and as love? Does not John the Apostle write of Christ: “and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not over come it.” Christ is indeed the light that cannot be overcome, He is our light in the darknes, he is our guide to keep us from sin. Is that not somewhat like what a lighthouse is to a ship?

The peace of Christ,

Thanks Mark… No I certainly don’t disagree with comparison of Christ as a lighthouse and as love. Maybe I got stuck on my own image of Christ in the Temple during the homily.

I’ll take a read of that JPII Encyclical. I haven’t read it Maybe I’ve been reading too much Leo XIII and my brain got lopsided.

So I think I’ll take this advice here, it seems sound.

To the OP: It sounds like he got you thinking, looking stuff up, and learning. Therefore I would say it was a successful homily. Give thanks and praise to God!

Hey guys. I just read all of the comments, and here’s what I’ve learned: 1) some people still get “something” out of dumbed-down preaching that improperly interprets the Lectionary Texts by ignoring certain elements within them, MAYBE; 2) it’s ok for the priest not to be properly prepared, and its ok for him not to take the time to properly understand the Lectionary Texts; 3) the priest, in the end, succeeded because he got you to think, but only because his words made you uneasy, and prompted you to investigate matters for yourself, and, possibly, go on to correcting him; 4) he’s the authority, and you’re not, so you better learn from him because you don’t have his training, and, therefore, you cannot be expected to grasp the sources of our Tradition; 5) don’t call him out on the problem, but play dumb and ask for more amazingly deep insight; 6) change yourself because, clearly, it’s not his fault…you have a “filter” problem, and you better stop filtering out all of the truth and its depth; 7) according to the Scriptures, John the Baptist and Jesus were very different from one another in approach.

Based on all of this, I guess there really isn’t a problem nowadays.

Come on my friends, do you not see a correlation between this and the fact that so many have abandoned the Faith, others don’t actually meaningfully live it, most are impoverished in their understanding of it, and the laughable temptations and ideas of the world find so much sudden strength in their battle against it? Consider just how many Catholics, around the world, go to at least Sunday Mass, and, therein, hear the preaching of their priests and bishops. This is an amazing opportunity to nurture and develop the Faith of roughly the 300 million Catholics who actually attend Mass. I don’t think even the most popular tv show has the opportunity to influence this many people, and every single Sunday at that! Consider, also, the opportunity to do the same with those roughly 600 million more Catholics who don’t usually attend Sunday Mass but do come for Christmas or Easter.

What would happen if we actually really learned our Faith through the homilies?

Here’s what I think the homily should do. It should properly help you to understand the literal sense of the Lectionary Texts, but then should bring them altogether, with the emphasis being on the Gospel, into one powerful typological narrative. From here, this typological narrative should be, again, typologically connected to the Covenantal, Liturgical, and Sacramental realities of which we are a part of within the Mass, and these should be, again, typologically connected to certain important parts of the Mass (my belief is that the blessing of the Bread and Wine is the Incarnation and birth of our Lord, the Epiclesis is his Baptism in the Jordan when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, the Words of Institution is his Sacrificial Death on the cross, the Communion Prayers for Bishops and Saints is when he descended into Sheol, the “through Him and With Him and In Him” while raising of the Body and Blood is his Resurrection, and the “Lamb of God” is his second coming).

What I’m saying is exactly the opposite that I’ve read from certain Church Authorities: the homily should be an in-depth Bible study, wherein we go further than this and learn not just how Christ fulfilled all things but how, we too, find our place, right now, within His fulfilment. Maybe, after doing all of this, can talk of events in the world in regards to their impact on the Church be brought in, being able to then be much better understood in a prophetic way. The homily should be the intense meditation on the joy of what we first heard in the readings. The prayers following the homily should be made, specifically, in light of the fulfilment of Christ in those readings, and our place within this fulfilment, and should be made in regards to begging God to make this fulfilment even more eschatologically experiential in our eating and drinking Him WITH Him! The homily should help us to understand the joy of receiving the Eucharist, and what this means! Through the Eucharist, we should actually be entering into, beyond time, the Salvation History which we heard.


  1. Maybe some people still get something out of awful homilies…but this is because of the Holy Spirit who overrides the ridiculousness of the priest. Imagine how much more the Holy Spirit could do with an amazing homily through an attentive biblical interpreter; 2) it’s never ok for the priest to not be properly prepared, nor is it ok for him not to take the time to properly understand the Lectionary Texts; 3) the priest should never make you feel uneasy, nor should his homily force you to go learn the truth for yourself…it should lead you to want to FURTHER synthesize the sources of our Tradition (which is just as much yours) and grow even more accordingly, not waste time on things we should already know; 4) you should be familiar with the sources of Tradition, anyway, since, nowadays, you have no other choice…the priest receives Grace in his ordination so that the Holy Spirit may work with his words, even if they’re awful…but if anyone could have his training in understanding, how much more should his understanding shine above ours because of the Grace given to him?; 5) priests and bishops should be called out on this…how else will things change?; 6) continue with your filter…the Holy Spirit, in regards to one person, may make words that are, in reality, weak to be meaningful, but, with another person, the Holy Spirit may be guiding through his filter to search for greater depth and proficiency in our Tradition; 7) John the Baptist and Jesus were pretty much the same in their approach. Both use the words “you brood of vipers,” which pretty much refers to their opponents as “sons of satan.” The first thing Jesus says is “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” Jesus actually goes much further than John. When the pharisees question the Apostles for plucking grain on the Sabbath, he pretty much implies, through allusion, that they are like the villainous Doeg the Edomite. He’s pretty much calling his opponents gentiles! Consider also his condemnation of the scribes and pharisees in Matthew 21. He cleanses the Temple and makes all sacrifices therein to stop! He ruins Temple business! To be clear, Jesus is True Love, but, to those that obstinately reject him, he is fullblown in his righteous anger. And if he said in regards to the receptive crowds following him “that the knowledge of the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven was not given,” how much more so would he say this to his enemies “who don’t gather with him but scatter.”

God Bless

My last post is actually connected to my first two that precede it.

You have high expectations for homilies. In your experience, how often are they met?

Please do let it lie . …

My attitude towards homily is that the celebrant cannot go very wrong, the most it would be his personal opinion. One cannot be very wrong with personal opinion in a homily based on the readings.

Now having said that, we should also give the celebrant the benefit of the freedom to arrange his homily in ways that he personally wants to address the situation in his parish. Unlike us parishioners, he may want to proclaim a certain message to his parishioners through the readings. So the readings can be broken in many ways.

Take that into consideration and you may understand the celebrant’s position. Maybe we can deliver a better sermon based on the reading; something more relevant, more detailed and perhaps more theological, but that’s not the point.

The celebrant’s job is to speak to a wide range of parishioners whose understanding of the Bible varies.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit