Have you ever had to listen to a homily that was just… bad?
That happened not too long ago. I was visiting at another parish during vacation, and during mass, the poor priest (who was very new and had just graduated seminary) was clearly nervous. He didn’t prepare notes and had intended to ad-lib his way through, but as soon as he stepped up in front of the people, it was clear that he was intimidated. He did talk to us and share his love of the faith. But he did so in such a rambly, disorganized way that I couldn’t tell you what the poor priest was trying to say, even right after his homily. And this happened when all three of my children fell asleep during mass, so I could definitely pay attention!
When that sort of thing happens, it’s easy to get annoyed at the priest and criticize him, and many people do. However! Instead of being annoyed… what if you try praying for him? And asking some of the saints to pray for him as well?
And so, I would like to present to you this artwork depicting St. John the Baptist preaching:
I love this picture so much… it’s just so intense. So many people came to St. John the Baptist to hear his fiery sermons, and so many repented of their sins there. He also led two of his own disciples to become Christ’s disciples when he pointed out Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” A phrase that is referenced twice in the painting — once with the sheep at his side, and the other with the banner that he is holding, which says, “Ecce Agnus Dei” which is Latin for, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
Though all around him, people watch him with rapt attention, he seems to look beyond the painting and at us, his eyes directly looking out at us. There, he points upwards at the sky where there is a tiny sliver of light, which represents the light of God in our dark world, in a reminder that we should think of Heaven and repent.
After all! Is that not the job of a priest when he preaches? To help direct our thoughts toward Heaven and repentance before Christ is revealed to the people?
So, the next time a boring homily happens, don’t get annoyed! Just use the opportunity to pray for your priest. And ask St. John the Baptist to pray for your priest as well.
After all, we need all the prayers we can get!
This artwork is one of the artworks that is featured in the Introductory Prayers of my new book, The Luminous Mysteries. This book pairs a classic religious artwork with every prayer of the Rosary — including the introductory prayers that happen before the formal sets of mysteries begin! To take a peek at the book and purchase it, click here!