Curated preaching illustrations and anecdotes from Fr. Tony Kadavil. NEW! Now with videos; Also includes Fr. Tony’s commentary, and Children illustrations/object sermons.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
ROME REPORTS (2:54) – About 340 Million Christians are persecuted worldwide
RELATED VIDEO: Inaugural Addresses Have Defined Presidencies: A Look Back
The Prophetic Call and the Fear of Rejection
The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme. Here is one example. Visit Fr. Tony’s website for a whole lot more.
Moses tried to convince God that he didn’t speak well enough, and Jeremiah complained to God that he was too young. The prophets trembled at the trials ahead of them – and with good reason. Israel had a long history of rejecting prophets (2 Chr 36:16; Jer 2:30; Amos 2:12; Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34; I Thes 2:15; Heb 11:32ff.). Jeremiah was threatened with death several times, thrown into an empty, muddy cistern, imprisoned, dragged off to exile in Egypt, and, perhaps, most painful of all, was forced to watch the destruction of Jerusalem because its inhabitants would not listen to his message. At least twice in his lifetime, the prophet Elijah spoke the truth of God to King Ahab of Israel concerning the King’s promotion of idolatry. As a result, Elijah was forced to flee into the wilderness where he suffered great privation (I Kgs 16:29–17:3 and I Kgs 18:16–19:4).
Today’s Gospel story is another example of why the prophets did not jump for joy at their career prospects. In the space of five verses, we see the people of Nazareth turn from amazement to such fury at Jesus’ words that they seized him and dragged him off to the cliff to murder him. Speaking God’s truth by word or by deed is a risky business even today. Hundreds of missionaries have been martyred since 1990. Thousands of Christians have been killed this past year in Moslem countries and Communist countries. Christians are subjected to the white martyrdom of mental torture in advanced countries, including the U.S., by the agnostic and atheistic media, and liberal politicians and judges, as forms of the media constantly ridicule and insult Christians with unprecedented vengeance.
Central Theme of the Readings
The central theme of today’s readings is that we should have, and show in our communities, the courage of our Christian convictions in our Faith and in its practice, even when we face hatred and rejection because of them.
Scripture Readings Summarized
The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In living out his prophetic vocation while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah prefigured Jesus, the greatest of all prophets.
The Responsorial Psalm, Ps 71, offers us a prayer in time of persecution and a declaration of our trust in God with its foundation in Him.
In the second reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his Christian convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts was causing competition, jealousy, and divisiveness. He courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love, and instructs them to exercise their gifts with love.
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel presenting his own people’s negative reaction to Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” at the synagogue of Nazareth when Jesus applied to himself the words of Isaiah 61, announcing a new time of jubilee, liberation, and healing in God’s name. The passageshows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
Choose AS MANY AS TIME ALLOWS
1) Face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism
The story of Jesus’ rejection in his own hometown is a story that we can identify with, because it is a story that has happened to most of us. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect, or abuse. What about rejection by those closest to us? Often our friends, families, or childhood companions fail to listen to us, refuse our advice, and reject the words of grace, love, and encouragement that we offer to them because they are unable to see us as God’s appointed instruments, the agents of God’s healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of such rejection. How often have we discounted people through prejudice? We must realize that God’s power is always available to transform even the most unlikely people and that His power may come to us through unlikely instruments.
2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives
The story of Jesus’ rejection by his townsfolk is also a story about how we often ignore and reject God. Do we realize that we expel Jesus from our lives every time we choose to sin? How often have we taken him to the brink of our hearts, and given him that eternity-losing push? The Good News is that this Messiah always gives us one more chance. It is up to us to take it. Similarly, are we unwilling to be helped by God, or by others? Does our pride or lack of trust stop us from seeing or recognizing God’s purpose? Does either prevent us from recognizing God’s direction, help, and support in our lives through His words in the Bible and through the advice and examples of others? God calls us in many ways. Are we willing to listen to this calling and discover our role in carrying out God’s purpose?
End of homily
Jokes of the Week
At the end of Mass, some priests like to offer a joke to their parishioners. Please be sensitive though to particular circumstances or concerns. Some Jokes may not be suitable for particular times, placeS, OR CONGREGATIONS.
# 1: Rejection at the Pearly Gate:A cab driver reaches the Pearly Gates and announces his presence to St. Peter, who looks him up in his Big Book. Upon reading the entry for the cabby, St. Peter invites him to grab a silk robe and a golden staff and to proceed into Heaven. A preacher is next in line behind the cabby and has been watching these proceedings with interest. He announces himself to St. Peter. Upon scanning the preacher’s entry in the Big Book, St. Peter furrows his brow and says, “Okay, we’ll let you in, but you will have only a cotton robe and wooden staff.” The preacher is astonished and replies, “But I am a man of the cloth. You gave that cab driver a gold staff and a silk robe. Surely, I rate higher than a cabby.” St. Peter responds matter-of-factly: “Here we are interested in results. When you preached, people slept. When the cabby drove his taxi, people prayed.”
# 2: Rejection resulting in the resignation of the pastor: There was a feud between the Pastor and the Choir Director of a Baptist church. It seems the first hint of trouble came when the Pastor preached on “Dedicating Oneself to Service” and the Choir Director chose to sing: “I Shall Not Be Moved.” Trying to believe it was a coincidence, the Pastor put the incident behind him. The next Sunday he preached on “giving”. Afterwards, the choir squirmed as the director led them in the hymn: “Jesus Paid It All.” By this time, the Pastor was losing his temper. Sunday morning attendance swelled as the tension between the two built. A large crowd showed up the next week to hear his sermon on the “sin of gossiping.” Would you believe the Choir Director selected, “I Love to Tell the Story.” There was no turning back. The following Sunday the Pastor told the congregation that unless something changed he was considering resignation. The entire church gasped when the Choir Director led them in: “Why Not Tonight?” Truthfully, no one was surprised when the Pastor resigned a week later, explaining that Jesus had led him there and Jesus was leading him away. The Choir Director could not resist singing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Fr. Tony started his homily ministry (Scriptural Homilies) in 2003 while he was the chaplain at Sacred Heart residence, applying his scientific methodology to the homily ministry. By word of mouth, it spread to hundreds of priests and Deacons, finally reaching Vatican Radio website (http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html). Fr. Tony’s homilies reach nearly 3000 priests and Deacons by direct email every week.
Please be patient
as page loads
Please be patient
as page loads