Middle English omelie, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin homilia, from Late Greek, from Greek, conversation, discourse, from homilein to consort with, address, from homilos crowd, assembly; akin to Greek homos same
The word homily is derived from the Greek word homilia (from homilein), which means to have communion or hold verbal intercourse with a person. In this sense homilia is used in 1 Corinthians 15:33. In Luke 24:14, we find the word homiloun, and in Acts 24:26, homilei, both used in the sense of "speaking with". Origen was the first to distinguish between logos (sermo) and homilia (tractatus). Since Origen's time, homily has meant, and still means, a commentary, without formal introduction, division, or conclusion, on some part of Sacred Scripture, the aim being to explain the literal, and evolve the spiritual, meaning of the Sacred Text. The latter, as a rule, is the more important; but if, as in the case of Origen, more attention be paid to the former, the homily will be called expository rather than moral or hortatory. It is the oldest form of Christian preaching.
- 1: a usually short sermon
- 2: a lecture or discourse on or of a moral theme
- 3: an inspirational catchphrase; also : platitude
A homily is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture. In Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a homily is usually given during Mass (Divine Liturgy for Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, and Divine Service for the Lutheran Church) at the end of the Liturgy of the Word. Many people consider it synonymous with a sermon.
In certain special occasions in the Episcopal Church including, but not limited to, the traditional Easter Vigil service, homily may be defined as a summoning of young and/or infantile children, as an immediate precursor to a linguistically casual and semi-interactive monologue presented by a bishop or equally highly ranking member of aforementioned clergymen.