Curated preaching illustrations and anecdotes from Fr. Tony Kadavil. NEW! Now with videos; Also includes Fr. Tony’s commentary, and Children illustrations/object sermons.
18th Sunday of Year B
The Golden Cavern | The Chronicles of Narnia | The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)
MISGUIDED SUBSTITUTES FOR LIFE
There’s a story found in C. S. Lewis’ Series, Chronicles of Narnia. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth volume of that series, Lucy, Edmund, their cousin Eustace, and some of the colorful creatures of Narnia, come upon a crystal-clear pool of water with what appears to be a golden statue of a man at the bottom. Only, they discover that it is a magical pool that turns everything into gold that touches the water. It appears that the statue at the bottom of the pool is a man who either didn’t know about the pool’s magic powers, or he was so consumed with accumulating gold that he ignored its dangers. Even though the characters of the story are awed at the magic of the pool, they recognize that such a place is far more dangerous than it is beneficial, and so they swear themselves to secrecy and wipe their memories clean of that place.
You see, when you waste your energies seeking to fulfill the hunger for things that perish, what you’ll find all too often is that you’ll still be dissatisfied, and your dissatisfaction will usually put you deeper into the hole you’re digging for yourself. In our consumer-driven world, in which many people literally work themselves to death accumulating a never-fully-satisfying abundance of things, Jesus’ words challenge our society’s misguided substitutes for “life.” (Steve Wilkins Are You Hungry?).
ALL ABOUT FOOD, EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY
IN THE KITCHEN WITH MATT (8:54) – The Best Worst Food Jokes Ever | 30 Funny Bad Jokes About Food (Kid Friendly)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about food. The two biggest sellers in any bookstore, according to Andy Rooney, are the cookbooks and the diet books. The cookbooks tell you how to prepare the food, and the diet books tell you how not to eat any of it!
Orson Wells once said, “My doctor has advised me to give up those intimate little dinners for four — unless, of course, there are three other people eating with me.”
Champion archer Rick McKinney confesses that he regularly eats chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. He refers to “the basic four food groups” as a Big Mac, fries, a shake and a lemon tart.
A California scientist has computed that the average human being eats 16 times his or her own weight in an average year, while a horse eats only eight times its weight. This all seems to prove that if you want to lose weight, you should eat like a horse. (Sunshine Magazine).
That’s a subject most of us know too much about. A recent survey found that 41% of men and 55% of women consider themselves overweight. In one way or another, many of us are obsessed with earthly food. Think what a difference it would make in our lives if we were equally obsessed with Heavenly Food, the Food that Christ gives us!
PUT ON THE NEW MAN
St. Francis – Brother Sun, Sister Moon – The Conversion Scene
Francis of Assisi was the son of a prosperous cloth merchant. As a young man he had money to spare and was a great partygoer. Then God started working on him. Bit by bit, Francis became more prayerful, more interested in the needy. Then Christ spoke to him from a crucifix that hung in the little church of San Damiano. “Rebuild my Church,” said the Lord. In his joy Francis, taking the command literally, ran back home, grabbed many bolts of goods as he could carry from his father’s shop, sold them, and took the money as a gift to the priest of the half-ruined San Damiano Church. The priest was leery about accepting the money – as well he might be – so Francis impulsively tossed the purse out of the window.
Francis’ father, Pietro Bernardone, had been away during this escapade of misguided charity. When he returned and heard of it, he was furious. He couldn’t understand his son’s goings-on of late, and he was out the money value of the goods Francis had sold. Therefore, he beat up Francis and locked him in the cellar. Francis’ mother eventually let him out, but when Papa Pietro got back from another business trip, he had the city authorities call Francis on the carpet. Francis answered he was now a servant of God alone and no longer subject to the city fathers. So Pietro, still embarrassed and thirsting for revenge, hauled him before the Bishop of Assisi and publicly charged him with robbery. The bishop advised Francis to pick up the purse where he had thrown it and return it to his parent. Francis told the bishop that he would gladly give back not only the money but all else he had received from his father. So then and there he doffed his clothes and put them in Pietro’s hands. “From now on,” he said, I will say “Our Father who art in heaven, and not Father Pietro Bernardone.”
Thereafter, the little saint-to-be wore only the coarse tunic the Bishop had used to cover him after Francis had given all his own clothes back to the father from whom he had received them. This coarse tunic was the evidence and symbol of Francis’ commitment to absolute poverty. Thus, he fulfilled the words of St. Paul addressed to us all: “Put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth.” (Ephesians 4:24. Today’s second reading.) -Father Robert F. McNamara.
LED BY THE HORSE
One of the truly great masterpieces of fiction was the satirical story of Don Quixote, by the Spanish writer Cervantes. In it we read how the absurdly chivalrous hero, followed by his squire Sancho Panza, set out to find adventure, to perform deeds of bravery and win the admiration of all. He had such an open mind on his quest that he decided to go wherever his horse Rosinante would lead him. But the horse, having found itself given free rein, naturally returned to the place it knew best, its own stable.
Too often perhaps we humans find ourselves going the same way, doing the same thing, returning to the same sinful habits again and again, sometimes also drifting aimlessly, sometimes lured on by the novelty of sensationalism, sometimes a prey to the enticements of others, or carried away by the latest fashion in religion. St. Paul, in today’s second reading, advises the Ephesians to satisfy their spiritual hunger by turning away from their former evil ways and leading lives of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
(John Walsh, in A Time to Speak; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
BUILDING A CATHEDRAL FOR GOD
Three laborers were dragging massive stones. The first was asked by a reporter what he was doing. The reply was terse, “I’m dragging a big stone, and it’s breaking my back.” He put the same query to the second fellow. His reply was, “I’m helping to build a wall, and I need your help right now.” The journalist politely declined. He moved on to ask the third man. He replied with a smile: “Sir, I’m building a cathedral for God.”
As Catholics, we have to examine our attitude to work. Are we working for the food which lasts and which gives eternal life as today’s Gospel suggests? Or are we part of the problem? Are we giving a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay? (Fr. James Gilhooley).
IDOLIZING WITHOUT TRUSTING
Tony Randall on Carson 9/17/1974
Actor Tony Randall, famous for his role as Felix in The Odd Couple, once had an experience that surely was the inspiration for a current credit card commercial. Randall was in a jewelry store in New York City. The store’s owner recognized him and became very excited. He declared that Randall was his all-time favorite actor. What a treat it would be for his wife, the man said, if she could talk to the Tony Randall. Randall graciously agreed. So, the man called his wife, and Randall had a short, pleasant conversation with her as she gushed on and on about how wonderful he was. Finally, Randall came to the point of his visit to the jewelry store. There was a gold necklace in the window that had caught his eye. He’d like to buy it. Would the store accept a personal check? The store owner hesitated, then asked, “Do you have any identification?”
Recognition only goes so far. The store owner was ready to idolize Tony Randall; he wasn’t ready to trust him. You see where this is leading, don’t you? Is it possible for people to come in this House today and worship Jesus–but still not trust him with their lives?
JESUS IN TORTILLA
Many years ago, a Mrs. Maria Rubio of Lake Arthur, New Mexico, was rolling out tortillas for lunch when she saw something that took her breath away. Looking back at her from a flat tortilla was the face of Jesus! The skillet had burned a perfect representation of a slender, bearded face onto the surface of the bread. Now I am not certain how Mrs. Rubio knew that this was Jesus, but she convinced a reluctant priest to bless the piece of bread, then she built a shrine around it. Mrs. Rubio quit her job so she could devote all her time to tending the tortilla shrine. Friends, neighbors, even strangers stopped by to look at it, or to pray in front of it. Mrs. Rubio, who also prays nightly in front of the tortilla, has said, “I do not know why this has happened to me, but God has come into my life through this tortilla.” [Bob Greene, American Beat (New York: Atheneum, 1983), pp. 34-36.]
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gave us the assurance that He would give us Himself as the Heavenly Bread, our spiritual food.
MOST AMERICANS EAT WELL
McDonald’s, Burger King, Burger Chef, Arby’s, Subway, Pizza Hut: Most Americans eat well. To have three square meals a day is not uncommon. Indeed, many eat five or six times a day, if coffee breaks, evening snacks and other times of eating are counted, in addition to breakfast, lunch, and supper. Drive through a town of any consequence and count the number of fast-food places and restaurants that are found. At some corners of major roads or along a block or two of a busy thoroughfare you may find five to ten feeding establishments. It is not uncommon to find in close proximity McDonald’s, Burger King, Burger Chef, Arby’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Dairy Queen, Long John Silver’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell as well as lesser-known or local look-a-like fast food establishments. Go into a major supermarket and count the variety of products that are similar. The only discernible difference often is in the trade name. Whole aisles will be filled with a vast array of cereals. Another aisle will be filled with competing brands of soft drinks: Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Royal Crown, 7 Up, and lesser known or store brands.
Try to find in the same area a religious bookstore. Compare the size of the religious book and supply store with the supermarket. It does not appear that people are as eager to be fed spiritually as they are to be fed physically! In John 6, Jesus takes the preoccupation of the crowds with food and drink as an occasion to move from physical eating and drinking to the more important needs of the spirit. Nourishment is needed for spiritual life and growth.
View More Homily Starter Anecdotes compiled by Fr. Tony
18th Sunday of Year B
Jesus provides a meal for 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fishes. Matthew 14:13-21
THE HOLY EUCHARIST IS OUR HEAVENLY BREAD
Today’s readings challenge us to trust in the providence of a loving and caring God and to hunger and thirst for the Bread of eternal life – the Holy Eucharist. As human beings, we hunger for many things besides food and material possessions. We hunger to be recognized and honored, to love and be loved, to be listened to and to be appreciated, to help, to console, to encourage people, and to receive gratitude. But only God can satisfy our various forms of spiritual hunger. St. Augustine said: “O God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You” (Confessions, I, 1.).
The first reading shows us how God satisfied the hunger of His chosen people in the desert by giving them manna and quail. The restrictions imposed by God for collecting the manna remind us to trust that God will always provide for our needs. Sometimes we have to be stripped of our usual sources of support in order to be reminded that our ultimate sustenance comes only from God, and then to acknowledge humbly our total dependence on God.
Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 78) refers to manna as “Heavenly bread” and the “bread of angels” which God provided for Israel and provides for us today.
In the second reading, St. Paul advises the Ephesians to satisfy their spiritual hunger by turning away from their former evil ways and leading lives of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Paul reminds us that our acceptance of Jesus as the Real Source of our Life and of nourishment for our souls effects a total transformation in us. Having been fed on the Bread from Heaven, we receive the power we need that we may put aside our old selves, steeped in ignorance and self-interest, and put on a new self, created in Christ’s Image. Having been nourished by the word of God, we need to bear witness to Christ by living lives renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Today’s Gospel passage is taken from the “Bread of Life Discourse” in John’s Gospel. Here, Jesus makes the unique and bold claim: “I am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.” Jesus is offering the crowd Bread from Heaven, Bread that nourishes them for eternal life, the Bread available to people who have Faith in Jesus Christ — the presence and indwelling of God in their hearts. When Jesus instructed those who had sought after him for earthly food that they should be fed by the Bread that Jesus would give them, some accepted this teaching. But others turned away disappointed, because Jesus’ challenge required a commitment that they were unwilling to make.