Curated preaching illustrations and anecdotes from Fr. Tony Kadavil. NEW! Now with videos; Also includes Fr. Tony’s commentary, and Children illustrations/object sermons.
Feast of the Holy Family, Year C
BOB RAYMONDA (2:40) – A Song for Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Manifestation of God’s Secret Plan
The Greek word Epiphany (επιφάνεια), means appearance or manifestation. First, the angels revealed Jesus to the shepherds. In the Western Church, the Feast of the Epiphany celebrates Jesus’ first manifestation to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, while in the Eastern Church, the Feast commemorates the baptism of Christ, at which the Father and the Holy Spirit gave combined testimony to Jesus’ identity as Son of God. Later, in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus revealed Himself in words as the promised Messiah, and at Cana Jesus revealed His Divinity by transforming water into wine. These multiple revelations are all suggested by the Feast of the Epiphany.
Homily Starter Anecdote
The conventional wisdom is that every homily should begin with a story to capture the congregation’s attention and to introduce the theme.
Click on chevron banners for additional insights into this week’s scripture in order to relate it to the lives of your parishioners.
Scripture Readings Summarized
Today’s Old Testament reading, Isaiah 60:1-6, is chosen partly because it mentions non-Jews bringing gifts in homage to the God of Israel. Here the Prophet Isaiah, consoling the people in exile, speaks of the restoration of New Jerusalem from which the glory of Yahweh becomes visible even to the pagan nations. “Jerusalem,” the prophet Isaiah cries out, “your light has come in the midst of darkness and thick clouds covering the earth; the glory of the Lord shines upon you.”
Saint Paul, in today’s second reading, reveals God’s “secret plan,” that the Gentiles also have a part with the Jews in Divine blessings. Affirming the mystery of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, Paul explains that the plan of God includes both Jews and Gentiles.
Today’s Gospel teaches us how Christ enriches those who bring Him their hearts. These pagan Magi were acceptable to God because they feared God and did what was right. Since the Magi came with humble joy in their hearts to visit the Christ Child, God allowed them to see wondrous things. At the same time, today’s Gospel hints at different reactions to the news of Jesus’ birth, foreshadowing Jesus’ passion and death, as well as the risen Jesus’ mandate to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19).
Choose AS MANY AS TIME ALLOWS
Let us make sure that we belong to the third group
a) Let us worship Jesus at Mass, every day if we can, with the gold of our love, the myrrh of our humility and the frankincense of our adoration. Let us offer God our very selves, promising Him that we will use His blessings to do good for our fellow men. b) Let us plot a better path for our lives. Just as the Magi chose another route to return to their homes, let us choose a better way of life, abstaining from proud and impure thoughts, words and actions, evil habits, and selfish behavior. c) Let us become the star, leading others to Jesus, as the star led the Magi to Him. We can remove or lessen the darkness of the evil around us by being, if not like stars, at least like candles, radiating Jesus’ love by selfless service, unconditional forgiveness, and compassionate care.
Like the Magi, let us offer Jesus our gifts on this feast of Epiphany and every day
(a) Gift of our life by offering it on the altar during the Holy Mass and by offering it to God every morning as soon as we get up, asking Him for the strengthening anointing of the Holy Spirit to do good and avoid evil during the course of the day. b) Gift of relationship with God by talking to Him in personal and family prayers and listening to Him by reading the Holy Bible every day. c) Gift of friendship with God by experiencing His presence in everyone we encounter, by offering Him our humble service, and by getting reconciled to God every night, asking His pardon and forgiveness for our sins and failures during the day.
Let us conclude with a 19th century English carol, Christina Rosetti’s A Christmas Carol, which begins, “In the bleak midwinter.” The carolsums up, in its last stanza, the nature of “giving to the Christ Child.”
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, Icould give a Lamb.
If I were a wise man, Icould do my part.
What I can I give Him?Give Him my heart!”
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) “I want the big cow!”: It was an excited little girl who told me this story. The first two wise men got down from their camels and offered their precious gifts to the Baby. He declined them. When the Baby Jesus declined the gift of the third of the also, the exasperated wise man asked, “Then what do you want?” The Child Jesus answered quickly and with a warm smile, “Your big cow!”
2) An 8-year-old asked, “How come the kings brought perfume to Jesus? What kind of gift is that for a baby?” His 9-year-old sister answered, “Haven’t you ever smelled a barn? With dirty animals around, Mary needed something to freshen the air.”
3) A husband asked his wife, “Why would God give the wise men a star to guide them?” She replied, “Because God knows men are too proud to ask directions.”
4) Three Wise Women: While they were talking about the story of the three wise men, a woman asked her parish priest, this question, “Do you know why God gave the star to the wise men?” When he professed his ignorance, she told him: “God knows men are too proud to ask directions. If there had been three wise women instead of three wise men, they would have asked for directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and given some practical gifts!”
4)Epiphany of a Sunday school boy: A little boy returned from Sunday school with a new perspective on the Christmas story. He had learned all about the Wise Men from the East who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. He was so excited that he could hardly wait to tell his parents. As soon as he arrived home, he immediately began, “I learned all about the very First Christmas in Sunday school today! There wasn’t a Santa Claus way back then, so these three skinny guys on camels had to deliver all the toys!” He further continued, “And Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with his nose so bright also wasn’t there yet, so they had to have this big spotlight in the sky to find their way around!”
5) Epiphany of a pilot: A helicopter was flying around above Seattle one day when an electrical malfunction disabled all the aircraft’s electronic navigation and communications equipment. Due to the clouds and haze, the pilot could not determine the helicopter’s position and course to steer to the airport. The pilot saw a tall building, flew toward it, circled, drew a handwritten sign, and held it in the helicopter’s window. The pilot’s sign said “Where am I?” in large letters. People in the tall building quickly responded to the aircraft, drew a large sign, and held it in a building window. Their sign said, “You are in a helicopter.” The pilot smiled, waved, looked at his map, determined the course to steer to Sea-Tac airport, and landed safely. After they were on the ground, the co-pilot asked the pilot how the “You are in a helicopter” sign helped determine their position. The pilot responded, “I knew that had to be the Microsoft building because, like their help-lines, they gave me a technically correct but completely useless answer.”
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.
VISION VIDEO (1:08) – Based on Henry van Dyke’s classic, The Story of the Other Wise Man, this fictional story set in Biblical times is told in gently comic terms. A Magi named Artaban (Martin Sheen) sees a sign in the heavens that he hopes will lead him and his faithful servant to the Messiah.
Artaban the fourth Wise Man
In 1895, Henry van Dyke wrote the story, “The Other Wise Man,” telling of a fourth wise mancalled Artaban. Our hero is not mentioned in the Gospel because he missed the caravan. He got to Bethlehem too late to see the Baby Jesus.
But Artaban did make it in time, using one of his gifts for the newborn King to save one of the Holy Innocents by bribing a soldier. For 33 years Artaban searched for Jesus. He did not find Jesus, but in the meantime, the Fourth wise man used the precious gifts he had brought for the King to feed the hungry and help the poor.
Then one day in Jerusalem Artaban saw the “King of the Jews” being crucified. He started to offer his last gift for the King, a great pearl, to the soldiers as ransom for Him. But then he saw a girl being sold into slavery to pay family debts. Artaban gave his pearl to buy freedom for the girl. Suddenly the earth quaked as Jesus died on the cross and a stone struck Artaban. Dying, he heard a Voice saying: “When you helped the least of my children, you helped me. Meet me in Heaven!”
Artaban, the fourth Wise Man, had been making God present in his community for years by helping others. God asks each of us on the feast of Epiphany to be a fourth Wise Man by becoming God’s epiphanies, making His love present in the world around us by our acts of love and kindness.
Epiphany of Adventurers
OLD FLIERS GROUP (8:08) – Dick Rutan described nine days in a bathtub sized cockpit with Jeana Yeager as “the worst date ever”. Would you have done what they did?
When pilots Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager made their historic flight in 1986 with their spindly Voyager aircraft, the whole world followed it with excitement. For nine days a sky-watch was kept, tracking their first non-stop global flight without refueling.
Achievers and risk-takers like Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager have always fascinated us. Marco Polo journeying to India and China, Christopher Columbus coming to America, Admiral Byrd going to the South Pole, our Astronauts flying to the moon — such adventurers have always aroused our admiration and our skepticism. It was no different at the time of the Magi in today’s Gospel story.
To the cynical observer, the Magi must have seemed foolish to go following a star. These astrologers had to be a little crazy leaving the security of their homeland to venture forth into a strange country ruled by a madman like Herod. Nevertheless, to the person with the eyes of Faith, the Magi had discovered an immense secret. They found not only the secret of the star, but the secret of the whole universe –the secret of God’s incredible love for his people. For the child they found was no ordinary child but the very Son of God become man (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).
Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
INSIDE EDITION (2:21) – Billy Graham was the man dubbed ‘America’s Pastor’ and has counselled nearly every American president since Harry Truman. He was particularly close to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Hillary Clinton says he helped her to forgive her husband after the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “He was just very personally there for me,” Hillary Clinton said in the 2007 book, ‘The Preacher and the Presidents, Billy Graham in the White House.’
In October 1989, a new star was added to the 1900 stars on the famed sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. The new star was placed near the stars of Julie Andrews and Wayne Newton. The new star, as curious as it seems, was the late evangelist Billy Graham, (died February 21, 2018), who preached the Gospel to more than 100 million people around the world. Forty years ago, he refused to have his name on a star, but he reconsidered it in 1989. He said, “I hope it will identify me with the Gospel that I preach.” At the unveiling he added, “We should put our eyes on the Star, which is the Lord.”
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