INTRODUCTION “Breath of God” at Priory of the Holy Spirit, Oxford, for Pentecost 2021 This homily comes from the hand of the former Master of the Order of Preachers, the Dominican Friar, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe OP. With a simplicity style, Fr. Timothy emulates the...
Discerning the Signs of the Times
Catholic sermons seek to break open the Word that we might better hear the God who speaks to us. Catholic preaching is fundamentally oriented toward encounter with the living Lord, and is liturgical in context, apostolic in origin, the subject of historical development, and, crucially, transformative in effect.
The sermon’s setting within the Eucharist is both christological and scriptural. Following their encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus, the two disciples say, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” This brief reflection encapsulates the very essence of the sermon’s purpose. It was followed by the “breaking of the bread” in which they recognized the risen Lord in their midst. This bringing together of Word and Eucharist provides the basic model of the Mass and is evident in the earliest accounts of Christian worship. In the second century, for example, St. Justin Martyr described the Eucharist as follows: “On the day called Sunday, all assembled in the same place, where the memorials of the Apostles and Prophets were read . . . and when the reader has finished, the bishop delivers a sermon.”