Homiletics 101

Q. Does the homily have to be on the reading that day, or is the priest or deacon allowed to talk about other things? Are there laws about that?

Megan, via e-mail

A.Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

Yes, there are laws about that. The homily should be related to the readings of the day or the prayers of the Mass of that day, according to the most recent English edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2012). While there are many references to the connection of the homily to the readings of the day in the GIRM, the following paragraph offers the clearest indication:

“The homily is part of the liturgy and is highly recommended, for it is necessary for the nurturing 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 the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners” (No. 65).

However, the homily is not limited to the readings of the day, and the homilist should take into account the particular needs of the listeners. For instance, the priest might use the homily to explain various parts of the Mass when he celebrates the Mass for students, so the homily then is not directly about the readings.