[For most homilies] ...the real practical problem is not theological, it is that they are boring. It may be ironic, but while today's clergy probably know the Scriptures better than their predecessors, the historical critical method in which they have been trained has drained away much of the excitement, the color and the poetry of the Scriptures in favor of questions about authorship or form criticism. None would deny the importance of these concerns, but they are not what matter to most people.
Biblical understanding, expressed in
words that touch both mind and heart, is
needed. Yet it alone will not do for,
lacking sincerity and a commitment to
prayer, it can become self-indulgent and
a snare. Poetry and the "music of the
mind" are important as well, but they
too must serve the Gospel. Jesus'
parables, so vivid, concise and subtle,
were always told for a purpose. They
were persuasive because he not only
meant what he said, he lived it.
Someone once asked John Wesley why so
many people traveled long distances to
hear him preach. "I set myself on fire
and the people come to watch me burn,"
he replied. It is a high order for any
would-be homilist—but it beats
----Willard F. Jabusch,
"Papa Don't Preach" in Commonweal,
March 28, 2003, page 31