We look at a single section of FIYH, but it contains a detailed description of a possible homily preparation meeting.
 After the group has gathered and spent a few minutes quieting down, the following steps can be followed:
1. Read the passages (15 minutes). Begin with the Gospel, then the Old Testament, Psalm, and New Testament. As one of the participants reads the passages slowly, the others listen and jot down images, words or phrases that strike them.
2. Share the words (10 minutes) . This is not a time for discussion but simply an opportunity for each person to share the words or phrases which resonated and fired the imagination. As this sharing is going on, the homilist may pick up some recurring words and phrases. He may be surprised to hear what parts of the Scriptures are being highlighted. These responses are already a sign of the concerns, questions and interests that are present in the lives of the congregation.
3. Exegete the texts (10 minutes). One of the members of the group presents a short exegesis of the texts. The task is not to bring to the discussion everything that could be said, but to make a special effort to determine what concrete human concerns the author was addressing when the text was written. What questions were there to which these words were at least a partial answer? When dealing with the Gospel passage, one way. to answer this question is to show how other evangelists treated the same materials.
4. Share the good news (10 minutes). What good news did the first listeners hear in these accounts? What good news does the group hear? Where is God’s promise, power and influence in our personal story present in the readings?
5. Share the challenge these words offer us (10 minutes). What is the doubt, the sin, the pain, the fracturing in our own lives which the passage touches? To what form of conversion do these words call us? In responding to these questions, the group may resort to generalities. By gentle persuasion and personal example the homilist can encourage the group to speak personally and with examples.
6. Explore the consequences (5 minutes). What difference can the good news make in my life? What happens if the scriptural good news is applied to contemporary bad news? Can my life be changed? Can the world be transformed if people believe in the good news and begin acting according to it? These are questions to which final answers cannot be given. They demand prayer and reflection.
7. Give thanks and praise (5 minutes). Conclude with a brief prayer of thanksgiving for God’s saving Word.
Working with a homily preparation group will help to ensure two things: that the homilist hears the proclamation of the good news in the Sunday Scripture readings as it is heard by the people in the congregation and secondly, that the preacher is able to point in concrete and specific ways to the difference that the hearing of this good news can make in the lives of those who hear it. When the preacher spends time with the congregation, struggling with how the Word touches real life, the possibility of this homily striking a listener as “talking to me” increases. The Word of God then achieves that for which it was sent. Preacher and listener, responding together, are nourished by the Word of God and drawn to praise the God who has again given a sign of his presence and power.
Exegesis after spiritual reflection: very good, especially the suggestion to delve into pastoral exegesis, the concerns and needs of the people the passage addressed.
A pastor should be attuned to the movements and stirrings in the parish, but a question not to neglect is what message in these Scriptures will speak to the needs of the people.
Any other experiences with a homily preparation group with these or a different format?
(All texts from Fulfilled in Your Hearing are copyright © 1982 USCCB. All rights reserved. Used with permission.)
This whole business of the feedback group, several days reflecting and then several drafts…
It’s a great system if you’re doing a homily every other week.
For most pastors? I doubt it.