Homily vs sermon

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The words homily and sermon are sometimes used interchangeably, but there is a slight difference between them. We will examine the definitions of the words homily and sermon, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A homily is commentary delivered by a priest or deacon after the reading of scripture. The word homily is frequently used in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran religions. The subject of the homily is the scripture that has been proclaimed during the religious service. It is a discussion of the chosen passage from the Bible. In fact, the word homily is derived from the Greek word homilia, which means conversation.

A sermon is a speech or discourse on religion or morals. A sermon may be in reference to a scripture that has been proclaimed during a religious service, but it may also simply be a topic on religion or morals that the speaker chooses to explore. Sermons may also be offered outside of religious services, or may be published as a text. The word sermon is sometimes used to mean a tedious lecture delivered as an admonishment. Sermon is derived from the Latin word sermonem which means speech or discourse.


Like “Pastor King,” as Cardinal Dolan referred to him throughout his homily, “our belief in the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of all human life propels us to concern for human life wherever, whenever, and however it is threatened, from racial antagonism to justice for immigrants, from the war-torn to the hungry,” the prelate said. (The Catholic News Service)

Jackson’s sermon addressed the “misplaced priorities” and “spiritual bankruptcy of those who managed to open the national treasury wide enough to pass a huge tax cut for the richest of the rich but cannot keep the government open long enough to heal the sick, feed the hungry or pay those who serve and protect us all,” according to the release. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)


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