Luke 18: 9-14

Illustrated New Resources

  • Asking for Mercy

    by Klaus Adam
    Shortly after he was elected, Pope Francis gave a homily at the Casa Santa Marta. He said: “The message of Jesus is mercy. For me, and I say this with humility, it is the Lord’s strongest message. The Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking Him for forgiveness. We need to ask for the grace not to get tired of asking for forgiveness, because He never gets tired of forgiving.”
  • The Self-Righteousness Divide and the Peace of Christ

    by Jana Bennett
    The Jewish New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine cautions us against a reading that names the tax collector as more righteous rather than the Pharisee – precisely because it puts us in that trap of thanking God I am not like the Pharisee. Levine suggests instead that the Greek word (para), usually translated as “rather than”, can also be translated as “alongside.” Levine believes “alongside” fits more with both Jewish faith and the kind of puzzle that Jesus offers in this parable. Levine’s translation is thus: “To you I say, descending to his house, this one is justified alongside that one. Because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Levine’s reading suggests the intriguing possibility that the Pharisee and the tax collector are both equally unjustified in God’s eyes, both equally offer prayer to God, though in different kinds of ways, and are equally heard by God and offered mercy. Indeed, this is the kind of equality of mercy that shows up in other parables like the “Workers in the Vineyard.”...
  • As If...Not a Totally Clueless Homily

    by Jim Chern
    My senior year in college one of my older brothers, Craig, who got a Bachelors in Arts Degree from Boston College said he wanted to see a film based on the Jane Austen book “Emma.” Nothing about that sounded even remotely enjoyable to me. When he explained it was the movie “Clueless” which I had seen trailers for on television, I was even less inclined. Just did not seem like my thing. But I have to confess it has become one of my favorite movies of all time. Clueless is hysterical. (Especially when you went to school with people they were imitating). Watching the main characters, Cher and Dion (named on purpose after famous singers from the past who now do infomercials) as they deal with the major crises of their lives: “totally” being treated harshly by their teachers; having to argue their way to get higher grades; trying to get their drivers license,being so stressed by those intrusive things called “classes” that they could only make sense of their lives by going to the Mall...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 25C)(2019)

    by Scott Hoezee
    What is one of the most common tendencies of Christians? It is the tendency to mix up roots and fruits. If the Christian life is like a tree that bears the fruit of the Spirit, we have a tendency to turn the tree upside-down. The production of spiritual fruit–the very kinds of things for which we Christians are properly thankful to God–grow OUT OF God’s gracious love. They don’t attract God’s love, they flow from God’s love. As C.S. Lewis says, the roof of a greenhouse shines brightly because the sun shines on it. The roof doesn’t attract the sun by virtue of being bright to begin with, however! Or, in another Lewis analogy, suppose a six-year-old little girl says, “Daddy, may I have $5 to buy you a Christmas present?” Well, any decent father will give the child the money and, come Christmas morning, will exclaim loudly and gleefully over whatever bauble the child bought. But only a fool would say that by virtue of the gift, the father came out $5 ahead on the deal!
  • Why True Prayer Is a Humbling Experience

    by Terrance Klein
    Charles, a brilliant history major in his senior year, tells Tom, his academic mentor, that he has decided to enter a divinity school. With no little empathy for the young man, his professor responds, candidly linking faith to prayer. “I have never been certain about faith. I expect the same enlightenment of it that I expect from study. But, even when I pray, I still see things in the world I don’t understand. [Father] Martin tells me I should stop assuming God is so like me. He says the challenge is not to understand, but merely to believe that all things are understandable.” Charles felt pale. “I think,” he said and cleared his throat. “I think that may be how I feel.” The scene is from The Dearly Beloved (2019), Cara Wall’s perceptive novel about modern Christians, who struggle with faith and prayer...
  • Ordinary 30C (2019)

    by Alex McAllister
    I was reading about the famous High Court Judge and Lord Chancellor Lord Hailsham who died in 2001. He was a strong Anglican all his life. I think it was coming to terms with the death of his mother while he was a student at Oxford that made him into a convinced Christian. Until he died at the age of 94 he went down on his knees to pray every night. He said once, ‘I say the Lord’s Prayer and I pray for help, comfort and strength.’ He enjoyed recollecting the occasion when saw his brother on the other side of the central lobby of the House of Commons and shouted out his name to attract his attention. As he called out ‘Neil’ he was most amused to see several American tourists fall to their knees. When asked in an interview how such an august legal personage as himself would meet his maker for the Final Judgement he said that he would immediately admit his guilt and throw himself on the mercy of the court. I don’t want to praise up Lord Hailsham too much, but in that phrase he summed up precisely the attitude of the tax collector from today’s parable...
  • Too Good for Our Own Good

    by Michael Ruffin
    If you are of my generation, you probably know the song “Spirit in the Sky.” You may know it even if you aren’t of my generation. It’s been used in lots of movies, television shows, and commercials. Norman Greenbaum wrote and recorded the 1970 hit. I once had an email conversation with Greenbaum. I was curious about the part of the song that says, Never been a sinner. I never sinned. I got a friend in Jesus. So you know that when I die he’s gonna set me up with the Spirit in the sky. I asked Greenbaum, who is Jewish, if he was being facetious or ironic with the lines “Never been a sinner. I never sinned.” He replied, “No, I thought that’s how Christians think.” My first thought was, “Norman needs to hang around a better kind of Christian—ones who know better than to think such things….You know, ones like me.” My second thought was, “Uh-oh. Did I just count myself as righteous and regard others with contempt?”...
  • Ordinary 30C (2019)

    by Jude Siciliano, OP
    John Shea recalls the revelatory experience Thomas Merton, spiritual writer, Trappist monk, had standing on a street corner in Louisville, Kentucky. Merton was overwhelmed by his love for all the people around him and how he was not separated from them, but one with them. He said, "Thank God, thank God that I am like other [people], that I am only a man among others." Then, in further wonder, Merton exults in praise that, "God… is glorified in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race!" ("The Spiritual Wisdom of the Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers, Year C: the Relentless Widow," Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2006, page 299.) So, while we "humble self" as Jesus recommends, we remember with praise that we are not only united with each other in our humanity, but also with God who, in the great act of humility, became one of us in Jesus Christ. Ben Sira ran an academy for youth two centuries before Christ. His wise teachings on worldly affairs and on the traditions of the Jewish faith were collected by his grandson for future generations of dispersed Jews, who struggled to practice their faith surrounded by nonbelievers. Ben Sira reminded his privileged students that their status and the value of their gifts at the altar did not automatically win a hearing from God. Rather, as we hear today in our first reading, God hears the prayers of the least in society...
  • How Bizarre

    by Anna Tew
    We’ve all been there. You get in the car and decide to listen to the radio for a change. The music that comes on takes you back. :opening guitar riff, with an overlaid Spanish-inspired horn: Instantly, you’re transported back to the late 1990s as OMC’s “How Bizarre” blasts over the radio. You might be recalling a lot of things in that moment, but as for me, I was a pre-teen in the midst of news I didn’t quite understand about the President and impeachment. I loved the series Animorphs, which planted the seeds of how to accept those who aren’t like me and to fight controlling and dominating powers, no matter how powerless I felt. Oh, and the series was about human teenagers turning into animals. How bizarre. But then, it was a bizarre time. I hadn’t yet thought about racial dynamics and policing, and to tell you the truth, I never really listened to the words of “How Bizarre” until 20-something years later, just last week, when the podcast Switched on Pop did a series on 1990's pop...

Other New Resources

Recommended Resources

{Based on requests from several members (although I am reluctant to do so since my favorites may not be those of others), I am listing here some of my own favorite resources. FWIW!!]
  • Illustrations on Humility

    from the Archives
  • Prayer as a Tool for Self-Righteousness

    by D. Mark Davis
    (lots of Greek exegesis)
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("In this regard, I'm reminded of an anecdote about the self-acclaimed, 'I am the greatest' boxer, Cassius Clay, AKA Muhammad Ali. Having just boarded a plane that was preparing for take-off, the 'great one' was instructed by the flight attendant to put on his seatbelt..." and several other illustrations)
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Robert Farrar Capon
    ("Imagine God sitting in the temple at a golden card table in a golden chair and in come these two characters. The Pharisee comes across the temple and God is very busy. He is creating the universe out of nothing....")
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (1998)

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was coming to the end of a rugged day and told his aide, Fr. Velo, that he would like to relax in a good restaurant. But no fanfare. Just call and make reservations. But how do you do that on a Friday night? You simply drop names; you let them know an important person is inquiring..." and several other illustrations)
  • There But for Fortune

    by Sil Galvan
    ("My wife is a teacher of 29 years and makes many judgments everyday about the children in her classroom. Years ago, a child was 'promoted' out of kindergarten to first grade because there were too many incoming kindergarten children...." and the title song) (For more on this theme, see the sermon below by Andy Oren entitled Rex.)
  • Proper 25C

    by Bill Loader
  • Rex

    by Andy Oren
    ("I was about ten years old when I first met . I lived on South Austin Street and moved in a few houses down the street. I seem to remember that is was about this time of year. I don't know who approached who but one of us had a football and we started playing catch and we became friends...")
  • Exegetical Notes (Luke 18:9-14)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    ("Craddock (in Luke) concludes his comments on this text with: 'For this parable to continue to speak with power, the preacher will need to find in our culture analogous characters....'")
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (Ordinary 30C)

    by Various Authors
    (Always lots of good stuff here!!)
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Ralph Wilson
    (good exegesis)

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2016 to 2018

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Comparing Ourselves to Others: A Sermon on Pride, Despair and Scapegoats

    by Nadia Bolz-Weber
    Which is why I’ve been thinking about one of Amy Clifford’s tattoos all week. She has an amazing quote tattooed on her arm. It says “comparison is the thief of joy” That simple statement contains so much wisdom. We compare our income to that of others who make more money, we compare our looks to those we think more beautiful, we compare our actual relationship to the Facebook highlight reel of someone else’s relationship and then we make the leap to assuming all these people are happier than us. Or more worthy of love. Or more valued as a person or whatever. Comparison steals our joy. And comparison introduces despair when none is called for.
  • Self-Righteousness versus Humility

    by Jerry Carpenter
    Many years ago I worked with a fellow pastor on a large church staff. He was the senior pastor and I was an associate pastor, one of about four who were supposed to assist him in doing his job. He came to this church after serving several other large church positions. We had heard good things about him, how he prayed with people who had concerns and urged participation in spiritual endeavors. All the staff were excited to receive him as the new senior pastor, after having served under a somewhat wimpy pastor who read his sermons weekly in a very dry, monotone manner.
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Dan Clendenin
    We'll invoke almost anything to justify ourselves — intelligence (GPA and SAT), alma mater ("This is where I went to school thirty years ago"), money ("I'm frugal toward myself and generous to others"), family ("Great kids!"), sports ("I'm in shape, you're a slob"), politics ("My vote is enlightened, yours is ideological"), and work ("I work at X; what do you do?"). A common form of self-justification invokes your zip code ("Where do you live?"), a transparent insinuation that net worth equals self worth. To a greater or lesser degree, I've tried all of these self-justifications; they don't work.
  • Righteous Humility

    by Bob Cornwall
    Miguel de la Torre reminds us as well that those who are marginalized, and this tax collector probably made the decision to collude with the Romans because he knew that it was one of the few ways to survive, make decisions that enable survival not morality. We make those kinds of decisions, that may appear unrighteous, but are the result of systems that oppress. So he writes: The salvific message of the gospel that the publicans of the world, the pimps and prostitutes of today, need to hear is that they are precious and are due dignity because they are created in the very image of God. Jesus understood that part of his liberating message was to humble the proud and uplift the lowly”
  • How Clarence Came Fully Alive

    by Jim Eaton
    One day Clarence was standing in the shower when he felt something that could have been a heart attack. It wasn’t a heart attack but for 10 seconds or so it might have been and it made Clarence think that life could be very short. It was Sunday and Clarence thought if life was short, maybe there wasn’t time to sit through a sermon. But he got dressed anyway and went downstairs and when someone asked later how he was feeling, he said “I’m fine.” Clarence is Norwegian and Midwestern. Norwegians and Midwesterners could be torn to a bloody pulp and gasping their last but if asked, say, “I’m fine.” At church, he checked out of the sermon fairly early because it was one of those where you really don’t need to listen, you can just pick up the last two or three sentences and get the whole thing, and when the pastor’s voice sounded like it might be near the end, Clarence took out his wallet and saw he had no cash.
  • The Characteristics of Genuine Prayer

    by Neil Ferguson, OP
    One of the greatly respected and beloved Fathers of the Desert was known as Abba Bessarion. He lived among the monks of Egypt in the great heyday of monasticism in the desert. One day he was seated in church with his fellow monks, composing themselves to take part in the Divine Liturgy. There was a sudden commotion. The priest of the church had heard (probably from another monk) that one of the brothers was a sinner, and the cleric took it upon himself to eject the man from church. Abba Bessarion got up and was heard to say (in a loud stage whisper- I like to think): “I too am a sinner.”, and he also left the church. On another occasion, a young monk asked Bessarion how to live in community: “Keep silence and do not compare yourself to others.”
  • The Pharisee, the Tax Collector and You

    by Evan Garner
    In a small town, a woman whom everyone loved died. She had been the sixth-grade teacher in the town’s only school for as long as anyone could remember. Everyone who had grown up in that place had experienced the firm but loving guidance that she had offered hundreds of children over the years. When news of her death spread throughout the town, everyone was moved and made plans to go and pay his or her respects. Even the crazy town drunk, whom everyone held with a mixture of pity and disgust, wanted to go to the funeral. On the afternoon of the service, he walked up to the front of the funeral home but stopped short of the door. He wasn’t sure whether he could do it.Other than to stick his hand out and beg for change, he had avoided interactions with people for decades, but this teacher had meant the world to him. Back then, he was an awkward boy with a difficult home-life, and she was the last person he could remember who had taken the time to really care about him. Ever since the sixth grade, his life had spiraled steadily downward toward the lonely, hard existence he now inhabited. He knew what he had to do. So he steeled himself and walked in.
  • Proper 25C (2016)

    by Scott Hoezee
    As C.S. Lewis says, the roof of a greenhouse shines brightly because the sun shines on it. The roof doesn’t attract the sun by virtue of being bright to begin with, however! Or, in another Lewis analogy, suppose a six-year-old little girl says, “Daddy, may I have $5 to buy you a Christmas present?” Well, any decent father will give the child the money and, come Christmas morning, will exclaim loudly and gleefully over whatever bauble the child bought. But only a fool would say that by virtue of the gift, the father came out $5 ahead on the deal!
  • Still Not Sure

    by Terrance Klein
    The Desert Fathers also left us a collection of spiritual gems in their sayings and stories. Here is one. See what you make of it. At the moment that a holy elder was in the throes of death, the devil appeared before him and shouted at him, “You destroyed me, you wretch.” “I am still not sure of that,” the Saint replied, and reposed. There’s the story. What’s one to make of it? Why does the dying saint doubt his salvation, which even the devil laments as something already accomplished? Why does he say, “I am still not sure of that” and only then does he die? Is he not a saint?
  • Just Worship/No Distance Too Great

    by Kate Matthews
    includes several quotes
  • The Third Move

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    On the left the Pharisee leaves the Temple with a rather smug expression on his face. He is preceded from the Temple by a horned and winged devil who carries a mask. The mask is an obvious symbol for the deception that is the world's perception of the Pharisee. By contrast, the tax collector leaves the Temple overseen by an angel. One of these men leaves the Temple justified, Jesus says. Fabritius has left no doubt which man that is. The third move - leaving worship - is worth thinking about.
  • The Tax Collector and the Pharisee

    Art by Raymond Quinsac Monvoisin
    Raymond Quinsac Monvoisin’s 1865 wood engraving of the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee (after a sketch by Gustave Doré) arranges the composition as if the viewer is on the altar looking toward the two men. The viewer is in a position of judgment.
  • Do Something Religious

    by Larry Patten
    Some folks were on a hot air balloon ride, touring the countryside while suspended in a large wicker basket. Introductions were done informally and one of the passengers happened to be a minister. Problems started . . . perhaps a faulty burner or unexpected gust of wind. The balloon lost elevation. The pilot panicked. He had no idea what to do, but then everything returned to normal in seconds. However, the group remained anxious and agitated. A passenger implored the minister, "Do something religious!" "Should I take an offering?" the minister said.
  • The Pharisee and the Publican

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    There is an ancient parable about prayer which is also a parable about liturgical prayer. One version of it runs something like this: Two liturgical committees once met to plan their respective Sunday liturgies. At the meeting of the first committee, a prayer was offered which, below the more obvious words, went something like this:
  • In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself

    by Peter Thompson
    as I end this morning, I’d like to share this with poem you. It’s by the Polish Nobel Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska and is called—brace yourself—“In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself” The buzzard never says it is to blame. The panther wouldn’t know what scruples mean. When the piranha strikes, it feels no shame. If snakes had hands, they’d claim their hands were clean. A jackal doesn’t understand remorse. Lions and lice don’t waver in their course. Why should they, when they know they’re right? Though hearts of killer whales may weigh a ton, in every other way they’re light. On this third planet of the sun among the signs of bestiality a clear conscience is Number One.
  • The Power of Being Justified

    by David Lose
    The children’s story Old Turtle and the Broken Truth gets at this nicely. In it, the truth of the universe comes to earth but on its way is broken in two. One half – that we are special and deserve to be loved – gives strength and happiness but over time leads to arrogance and disregard for others. Only when we discover the other half – that so also all others are also special and deserve to be loved – can we live into the peace and goodness of the universe (and, we would add, of God!). This is the heart of justification, the empowering word that frees us from insecurity and despair and then frees us again to share that same good news and love of God with others.

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2010 to 2015

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Don't Call Me a Saint

    by Rachel Blanton
    ("When people told Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, that she would be named a saint one day she told them, 'Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily.' Being pictured as a saint brings with it the image of perfection...")
  • God's Generous Gestures Are Genuine

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("There's a lovely story told of Muhammed Ali, the great boxer, when he was in his prime – and I hope it's true. Ali was on a plane getting ready to go somewhere, and the stewardess had to remind him to fasten his seat belt. He replied, 'Superman don't need no seatbelt'. The stewardess replied, 'And Superman don't need no airplane either'. Ali did his seatbelt up!...")
  • To Serve and Protect

    by Jim Chern
    ("Usually cops follow the motto 'To Protect and Serve' - well this story has the potential to flip that to serve and protect. This past week, what started out as a somewhat routine, common shoplifting call to a Miami-Dade Police Officer became an international news story. Police Officer Vicki Thomas got a call from a local supermarket that a woman had been detained after filling her shopping cart with almost $300 worth of groceries and simply walking out the front door...")
  • Lord, Have Mercy or What's Wrong About Being Right?

    by Daniel Clendenin
    ("Last summer I read a book by Andrea Lyon called Angel of Death Row; My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer (2010). In 1995 the Chicago Tribune dubbed Lyon the 'angel of death row' for her fourteen years of service in the Cook County Public Defender's Office, where she eventually became Chief of the Homicide Task Force. Lyon describes herself as an unapologetic 'defender of accused killers'...'")
  • Prayer

    by Anne Emry
    ["Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said we have two ways of praying: praying out and praying in. Praying out is when the prayer bursts forth from deep within (almost in an accident—thank God it didn't happen! On your way to the doctor after a routine test showed something that needs to be looked at again—please God don't let me be sick!) Those prayers are full of focus—from the gut. Praying in is what we do in church..."]
  • Unworthy Beggars

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("in his movie The Immigrant, Charlie Chaplin plays the immigrant, newly arrived in this country, with not a penny in his pocket. One scene shows him eating a huge meal in a restaurant, knowing all the while that he doesn't have a penny to his name. Between mouthfuls he notices a huge, burly waiter and three large bouncers pounce on a customer, beat him to a pulp, kick him, and then toss him out into the street. Charlie asks another waiter what the man had done. The waiter replies, 'He was ten cents short.'...")
  • Proper 25C (2010)

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("The story is told that one evening a man in a Dearborn, Michigan, restaurant bumped into no less than the famous Chrysler chairman, Lee Iacocca. 'Oh, Mr. Iacocca,' the man exclaimed, 'what an honor to meet you! Say, my name is Jack and I'm having a business dinner with some colleagues over there at that corner table...")
  • Which One Are We?

    by Beth Johnston
    "I'm sure you can recall the first line or two of the Mac Davis song, O Lord Its Hard to be Humble. 'Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way; I just can't wait to look in the mirror, 'cause I get better looking each day!' The singer is, 'the perfect man', he is a nightclub performer, is trying to figure out why he is waking up alone in the 'star suite' when he is perfect 'in every way'... "
  • Proper 25C (2010)

    by Ken Kesselus
    ("In the early years of our country, one Southern family stood out in offering leadership to a fledgling nation. Most renowned among the first families of Virginia, the Lees were wealthy, capable, intelligent, and dedicated patriots. Using the legend of this family and what some consider a bit of overexposure, lyricist Sherman Edwards crafted a clever song for his Broadway musical 1776..." and another illustration)
  • Civility Begins with Emptiness

    by Kari Henkelmann Keyl
    ("Try out these words of prayer, written by Frank von Christierson. They just plain carry me into the heart of God: 'Eternal Spirit of the living Christ, I know not how to ask or what to say; I only know my need, as deep as life, and only you can teach me how to pray...")
  • Stand Out Righteousness

    by Nathan Nettleton
    But actually, it was far from unusual. Rather than being especially arrogant, it was more or less one of the prescribed prayers that he was required to pray on entering the temple or synagogue. One version recorded in the Talmud goes like this: I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, that you have set my portion with those who sit in the house of study and you have not set my portion with those who sit in street corners, for I rise early and they rise early, but I rise for the words of Torah and they rise for frivolous talk; I labour and they labour, but I labour and receive a reward and they labour and do not receive a reward; I run and they run, but I run to the life of the future world, and they run to the pit of destruction.
  • Ordinary 30C

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    "I once went to a 'medieval banquet'. We were supposed to pretend to be guests at a banquet hosted by King Henry the Eighth of England, staffed by beefeaters, lords of the realm, various entertainers and served by "comely wenches"! And in among it all was one woman who was totally out of place working as a 'comely wench'. Too small, too fat, too old to compete with the sassy young Aussie minxes who made up the majority of the 'comely wenches'..." - good story
  • Not Looking with Contempt

    by Steve Pankey
    ("At about 1 am on Sunday morning, my cell phone rang. Half panicking and half confused, I answered it and received news that my aunt and uncle had died in a motorcycle wreck on Saturday afternoon. There isn't much sleeping after a phone call like that, so I sat in my recliner with ESPN making noise in the background as I thought and prayed and wondered...")
  • Yes or No?

    by Larry Patten
    ("Jack Reacher is one of my guilty pleasures. He is author Lee Childs' fictional hero of numerous best-selling mystery novels. Strong and self-assured, Reacher travels America with his wits, the clothes on his back, a toothbrush and saves the day by the conclusion of each novel. The former military cop goes where hitchhiking or a bus will take him...")
  • Thirst, a Word for Prayer

    by Nancy Rockwell
    ("Colum McCann, in Let the Great World Spin, writes of a young Irish Catholic, Corrigan, whose hunger and thirst for God have led him to a live among prostitutes and nursing home inmates, in his constant life of prayer. When he gets ill Corrigan tells his brother "It would be easier if He wasn't there. I could pretend I was searching for Him. But no, He's there, the son of a gun...")
  • Ordinary 30C (2013)

    by Jim Schmitmeyer
    Scroll down the page for the Spanish homily.
  • Can You Hear the Music?

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Who doesn't like an 'attaboy!' when they do something good? It's why we have 'honor society' in school. It is the reason we have scholarship awards as we head into college. 'Attaboy!' stands behind all those accolades high achievers get throughout life: Rhode's scholarships, purple hearts, Silver stars, gold statues, merit raises for school teachers, making partner in a big firm, getting re-elected...")
  • Proper 25C (2010)

    by Gord Waldie
    (includes two appropriate clips: Nobody Likes Me from How to Eat Fried Worms and It's Hard to Be Humble from the Muppet Show)
  • Sorry, Life is Pass/Fail

    by Carl Wilton
    "It’s a little like the difference — on a college campus — between taking a course for a letter grade, and taking it pass/fail. Some students are supremely confident in their ability to pull down an “A.” They don’t want their work to be hidden in that one-size-fits-all “pass” grade. And so they do all the right things. They attend all the lectures, read all the books. They cram for the exam: and they ace it. There are other students who know their academic skills are marginal. They register for the course pass/fail..."
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Judgment

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Prayer

    compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Redemption

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Repentance

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from 2007 to 2009

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Proper 25C (2007)

    from the Center for Excellence in Preaching
    ("The story is told that one evening a man in a Dearborn, Michigan, restaurant bumped into no less than the famous Chrysler chairman, Lee Iacocca. 'Oh, Mr. Iacocca,' the man exclaimed, 'what an honor to meet you! Say, my name is Jack and I'm having a business dinner with some colleagues over there at that corner table...")
  • Bouquets

    by Lane Denson
    ("In a Doonesbury comic strip, Mike is on a jet to New York, nervous, praying to "get a grip on himself". A part of his uneasiness comes from the fact that his seat mate is dark, wears a turban...")
  • Walking Humbly

    by Frank Fisher
    ("'Our new pastor will be here on Sunday.' Those words reverberated through the hallways and rooms of Pompous Presbyterian Church. Everyone, it seemed, was quite excited. 'After all,' they said, 'the Pompous pulpit has been vacant for a very long time'. To the members of the Pastoral Nominating Committee, the time had seemed even longer...")
  • The Pharisee and the Publican

    by Alex Gondola
    ("I think of Malcolm Muggeridge, British author and journalist, biographer of Mother Teresa. Malcolm Muggeridge once wrote of himself, 'I may, I suppose, regard myself or pass for being a relatively successful man. People occasionally stare at me in the streets—that's fame...")
  • Ordinary 30C (2007)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once a parish had a new pastor. He was a very hard working, zealous man. He went to all the wakes, visited all the hospitals, appeared at every wedding reception, consoled all the mourners, preached a wonderful sermon, was pleasant to all the children, even enjoy TEENAGERS!...")
  • Appearances Are Deceiving

    by Nicholas Lang
    ("Once upon a time in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess happened upon a frog as she sat contemplating ecological issues...")
  • Presumptuous Prayer

    by David Martyn
    ("Once there was a rabbi who was at the point of death, so the Jewish community proclaimed a day of fasting in the town in order to induce the Heavenly Judge to commute the sentence of death. On that very day, when the entire congregation was gathered in the synagogue for penance and prayer, the town drunkard went to the village tavern for some schnapps...")
  • Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

    by Becca Stephens
    ("This week two Sudanese women walked into my office. They began the meeting by thanking me for my time, my precious time. Then they told me the journey part of their story. They had been on a long and arduous journey from a long and bloody war that created an entire generation of refugees. They told the story of the death of most of their family...")

Illustrated Resources (and Other Resources of Merit) from the Archives

(In order to avoid losing your place on this page when viewing a different link, I would suggest that you right click on that link with your mouse and select “open in a new tabâ€. Then, when you have finished reading that link, close the tab and you will return to where you left off on this page. FWIW!)
  • Grace That Amazes

    by Bob Allred
    ("Our first hymn this morning was Amazing Grace, usually regarded as America 's favorite hymn. John Newton wrote this autobiographical hymn as one whose life had been transformed by Jesus' mercy....")
  • Illustrations

    from Biblical Studies
  • More Illustrations

    from Biblical Studies
  • The Faith of Visions and Dreams

    by Barbara Bundick
    ("A few years ago, a friend of mine, Hal, proposed an amendment to the United States Constitution. Hal wanted to change the way we go about electing our president. Now mind you, Hal is something of an old codger, so his proposal is not written in inclusive language. But frankly, I think it would be easier for a woman to become president under my Hal’s system than under the current one...")
  • Reforming the Body of God

    by Dan Chambers
    ("Some of you will remember the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. One piece showed the young boy, Calvin, walking to the top of a hill under a night sky brilliant with stars. Calvin opens his mouth, which reaches to his knees, and shouts, 'I am significant!' Another caption shows him simply looking at the vast heavens. And in the final caption he adds, 'Says the dust speck'...")
  • Self-Esteem or Self-Righteousness?

    by John Christianson
    ("There's a wonderful Norwegian story, over a hundred years old, about the Pompous Parson. It seems that a particular minister was so impressed with his own importance that he threw his weight around every where he went. ...")
  • The Pharisee and the Publican (Politically correct version)

    by Tom Cox
    ("One day observing judgmentalist behaviour by morally self-righteous Persons, Jesus told this parable: Two male persons went up to the temple to pray to their Higher Power. One was a humility-impoverished Pharisee and the other was a marginalised collector of tax revenue...")
  • Humble Exaltation

    by Robert Elder
    ("I am reminded by this self-righteous Pharisee of an account shared with me by a friend of mine about a young student who was visiting New York City. He had heard all the stories about the dangerous areas of town, and sure enough, he found himself walking through a corner of Central Park late one night as a stranger was approaching from the other direction...")
  • The Secret of Good Worship

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    ("The story is told that one day Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, visited a prison and talked with each of the inmates. There were endless tales of innocence, of misunderstood motives, and of exploitation. Finally the king stopped at the cell of a convict who remained silent. 'Well,' remarked Frederick, 'I suppose you are an innocent victim too?'...")
  • Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

    by Richard Fairchild
    "When Seymour passed away, God greeted him at the Pearly Gates. 'Thou be hungry, Seymour?' saith God. 'I could eat,' Seymour replied. So God opened a can of tuna and reached for a chunk of rye bread an they shared it. While eating this humble meal, Seymour looked down into Hell and saw the inhabitants devouring huge steaks, lobsters, pheasant pastries and fine wines..."
  • Nothing in My Hand I Bring

    by Kevin Freese
    ("The author, Augustus Toplady, knew well the spirit of the tax collector. The words of one of his poems Rock of Ages, was put to music by Thomas Hastings and has been sung by Christians for more than a century. One verse poignantly expresses the thrust of our parable: Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill Thy law's demands; These for sin could not atone; Thou must save, and Thou alone...")
  • Proper 25C (2004)

    by Grant Gallup
    ("Richard Crashaw wrote a comment on the gospel, called Two Went Up Into the Temple to Pray. 'Two went to pray? o rather say One went to brag, th'other to pray: One stands up close and treads on high, Where th'other dares not send his eye. One nearer to God's altar trod, The other to the altar's God...")
  • It's Hard Being a Pharisee

    by Mark Haverland
    ("It was not enough for Oprah Winfrey to do a movie about slavery. She felt she needed to live it, too. At least a little. So, she took off into the Maryland woods to participate - blindfolded! - in a re-enactment of what it was like to be a slave on the Underground Railroad....")
  • Reality Check

    by Peter Haynes
    John Newton had quite a life. At age eleven he went to sea, where he remained for 19 years, first working with his father, a shipmaster; then as a midshipman in the Royal Navy of Great Britain; and then, for six years as master of a slave-trade ship. At the time, Africans being transported as cargo were not considered human, but rather soul-less, wretched beings, for whom even a minimum of comfort on the journey was not a consideration. They were packed in like sardines and treated like dirt. It’s interesting that when this atheist slave-trader discovered God and turned from selling what he once saw as wretched slaves to sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, he took for himself the title "wretch." He recognized his sin, like the tax collector in that story Jesus told, and simply came to his God, saying, "be merciful to me, a wretched sinner."
  • A Satisfactory Humility

    by Robert Holmes
    ("One painting that has had that impact on me is one called The Presence in the Midst by J. Dale Penrose. It shows the interior of a great cathedral. Your attention is immediately drawn to the chancel area and the altar where bright candlelight illumines the priests serving Eucharist to members of the congregation...")
  • The Face in the Mirror

    by Brice Hughes
    ("Then there was Ted. Not the sharpest pencil in the box. But then, his mother had been a druggie—meth, alcohol, pills-- whatever you could snort, shoot, or smoke to escape reality. Ted paid a price for her self-medications while he was not yet born. Before he was old enough to walk, she had succeeded in killing herself with all those drugs. There never had been a father..." and another illustration)
  • Humility: Things are Looking Up for Those Who are Looking Down

    by John Jewell
    ("'Big Rog' was a bully. He picked on the weakest guys and taunted the most timid girls. He was big enough to not really have a match in the group of boys he hung around with. His attitude was that of a mini-Mohammed Ali -- 'I'm the greatest!' The boys coach at his school tried to channel his size and strength by suggesting the Golden Gloves competition...")
  • An Impossible Goal

    by Beth Johnston
    "Oh, Lord it's hard to be humble when you're perfect in every way I can't wait to look in the mirror 'cause I get better looking each day..."
  • It's Not About Us!

    by Beth Johnston
    "This quote on humility was seen on the wall of a high-school classroom recently: There is so much good in the worst of us and so much bad in the best of us that it ill behooves any of us to talk about the rest of us..."
  • Strike a Pose or Coming Down to Earth

    by Fred Kane
    ("The German pastor and church leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave his life in trying to stop the Nazi death machine. He was executed for his participation in the conspiracy against Hitler. But, his openness and honesty about himself is strikingly caught in his poem Who Am I?. It is a poem that meant a lot to me as a young college student and through the years continued to catch my attention as he wrote...")
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Tommy Lane
    ("In Vienna in Austria there is a church in which the former ruling family in Austria, the Hapsburgs, are buried. When royal funerals used to arrive the mourners knocked at the door of the church to be allowed in. A priest inside would ask ‘Who is it that desires admission here?'...")
  • The Unjust Judge

    by Hugh Magers
    ("A congregation had an old, tiny, historic church house that was falling into serious disrepair. As much as they loved it, and they did love it, they prayerfully decided that God wanted them to move to a new place and build a new church house that would enable them to minister and grow..." and another illustration about John Newton)
  • The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

    by Edward Markquart
    ("On the other hand, a Mother Teresa and her life and legend is recognized the world over because of her selflessness and humility. Mother Teresa’s name is exalted above all other names on earth because she embodies the opposite of selfishness, self glorification and hypocrisy. She was totally selfless in her giving to others, and in some measure, we want to be like her...")
  • Judged By Grace

    by David Martyn
    ("About ten years ago the men's group at the church I was at went on a weekend retreat up the Sunshine coast. Now one of the twenty was Jimmy McClosky, he didn't talk much so he would just go outside and chop wood. McClosky had a grade five education due to a learning disability and so had spent his life working for the railroad driving spikes...")
  • Proper 25C (2001)

    by David Martyn
    In the city of St. Petersburg two hundred years ago, a desperate situation arose in which a ransom of ten thousand rubles was demanded for a young bridegroom. This experience was not uncommon in those days, when unscrupulous police, military, or other people in power would arrest or kidnap Jews and demand ransom, for they knew that Jewish law required the Jewish community to do anything including selling a precious Torah scroll to save a Jewish life. Three talmudic students in the area realized that the only place to get such a sum was from a wealthy man named Ze’ev. Now ze’ev is the Hebrew word for wolf, and this man was aptly named. He was ravenous for wealth and would do anything to acquire it. He could also be vicious when turning people away who requested donations. He never contributed to anything. These three rabbinic students were to become famous rebbes. The youngest was the leader of the three because he was certain that they would be successful with Ze’ev. The other two were far more sceptical about getting money out of Ze’ev, and were concerned about wasting precious time. But they wanted to accompany the youngest to provide protection. He agreed on condition that they would not say anything during the fund-raising, no matter what happened. And so they went...
  • To Preen or Not to Preen

    by James McCrea
    ("I've never been a big fan of Saturday Night Live, but every once in a while they create a character that seems to have lasting power. One of those is Emily Litella, a character created by Gilda Radner. Emily Litella is an elderly woman who would regularly appear on the Weekend News segment to offer an editorial reply to some editorial previously run by the Weekend News staff...")
  • From Judgment to Compassion

    by Philip McLarty
    ("The story is told of a young adult who came to church about thirty minutes late – just after the preacher had started his sermon. He walked down the center aisle all the way to the front of the sanctuary and sat down on the carpet. He was hardly dressed for church. He wore these sagging trousers you see teenagers wearing nowadays, a sweat shirt and tennis shoes...")
  • Name Calling

    by Nancy Nichols
    ("It's one of the first rhymes we learn once we go to school: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.' Unfortunately, it's not true. Words do hurt. As children we go right for the jugular - fatty, fag, stupid, dummy...")
  • Community of Saints or Sinners?

    by Paul Nuechterlein
    I need to tell you about last night’s Star Trek (“Who Watches the Watchers?”; Season 3, Episode 4 in The Next Generation series, first aired the week of Oct. 16-22, 1989). What happened is this: the Enterprise gets a distress call from a group of anthropologists, who are covertly studying a planet. The people who naturally inhabit this planet are only at about a Bronze Age level of development. Through a series of accidents, these primitive people see the crew of the Enterprise do what appears to them as miraculous deeds. They believe the crew members, especially Captain Picard, to be gods. The damage done, Captain Picard wants to minimize the interference they make on this peoples’ development. Captain Picard wonders: Won’t their belief in gods now develop into a religion? And, given our own human history, isn’t there a good chance that their religion could degenerate into things like inquisitions, Holy Wars, chaos! What a mess! Their inadvertent interference threatens to send these poor people, in the words of Captain Picard, “back into the Dark Ages of superstition, and ignorance, and fear.”...
  • This Is Where We Must Begin

    by Ray Osborne
    ("The way we enjoy community, the ways in which we interact with each other is a construct resulting from the depth of our relationship with God through His Son - Jesus. Show me a person who beats his/her spouse, I'll show you a person who has a dysfunctional relationship with God...")
  • Asking for Mercy

    by John Pavelko
    ("In his marvelous book on prayer, Richard Foster writes on the acts of contrition. He presents four parts to the process. For Foster the first act is TO ASK for a contrite heart. We do not by nature willing admit our wrongdoing. We excuse our behavior by blaming the circumstances or other people...")
  • The Motive of Prayer

    by Stephen Portner
    ("A seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Frenchman named Francois Fenelon had written something which is as relevant to us today as it was when it was first written: Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend....")
  • How to be Right With God

    by Ray Pritchard
    ("In one of his books, John Warwick Montgomery imagines a scene at the entrance to heaven where Saint Peter is manning the entrance desk by the pearly gates. Up comes a fine looking man, all dressed up. When he rings the bell St. Peter says, 'Can I help you?'...")
  • Taking It All Off!

    by Peter Raser
    ("Let's reconsider George, the Pharisee, for a moment. George always tries to do the right thing and for the right reasons, too. He doesn't drink or smoke or cuss. He's faithful to his wife. He makes sure he raises his children according to the Bible. And then there's Fast Freddy...")
  • The Chili Bowl Cookoff

    by Gary Roth
    ("This weekend was the weekend of the Big Chili Bowl Cookoff, an event in which a number of the local pastors participated, including Pastor Shulz of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church....")(a must read, if for nothing else than the humor!!)
  • Dismissed!

    by Norm Seli
    ("The young woman spends weeks thinking about it and days getting ready for it and finally, she is ready to speak to her father-in-law. He's not a bad man, he's a good man, but if she doesn't speak to him soon she's going to start to resent his interference...." and another illustration)
  • Nothing to Offer but Myself

    by Martin Singley
    ("Former Senator Bill Bradley tells the story of attending a political dinner in Washington when a waiter came around with the butter. 'I'd like two pats of butter, if I may, please', said Senator Bradley. 'Sorry, sir,' the waiter replied, 'it's one to a customer.' 'Well,' the Senator responded, 'I guess you don't know who I am...")
  • Mirror, Mirror

    by Sarah Morningstar Stanton
    ("'Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?' Each day the queen would stand before her magical reflecting glass and pose this question. And each day without fail the mirror would reply, "You are the fairest in the land." Then the queen would happily go about her business...")
  • Thanks, But No Thanks

    by Billy D. Strayhorn
    ("There's an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip in which Calvin is talking to his stuffed tiger Hobbes, whom he imagines to be real and his best friend. He says: 'People are so self-centered.' Then he adds philosophically: 'The world would be a better place if people would stop thinking about themselves and focus on others for a change.'..." and another illustration from City Slickers)
  • Keeping Score

    by Alex Thomas
    "It reminds me of a little piece written by Anne Herbert called The Snake in which she uses 'play' as a metaphor of life: In the beginning God didn't just make one or two people, but a bunch of us, because God wanted us to have fun and enjoy each other's company..."
  • Open or Closed?

    by Alex Thomas
    ("The Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, in an essay on humility, suggests that we conceive an arrow racing on it's course when suddenly it halts in its flight, perhaps in order to see how far it chas come or how high it has soared above the earth or how it's speed compares to that of another arrow..." and another quote)
  • Looking for the "Perfect" Christian

    Narrative Sermon by Pamela J. Tinnin
    ("When I was in St. Louis one of the students there invited me to church. It was an Episcopal Church, very different from our own, with an enormous pipe organ, gilded filigree panels in back of the altar, a black curlicued wrought iron railing across the front, and a padded kneeling bench for communion...")
  • Dig In

    by Mark Trotter
    ("David Mazel is a writer. He is really an urban storyteller. He tells a story about Mr. Hoffman, who owns a corner grocery in his neighborhood. It was the kind of store, you will remember, where the owner of the store, or the clerk behind the counter, would reach up on the shelves and get things for you and put it in your bag..." and other illustrations)
  • Do You See What I See?

    by Keith Wagner
    ("A middle aged woman has a heart attack and is taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she has a near death experience. During that experience she sees God and asks if this is it. God says no and explains that she has another 30 years to live..." and other illustrations)
  • Heavenly Humility

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time I was in a department store attempting to purchase a new suit. When I tried on a suit I stood in front of a 3-way mirror. The mirror enabled me to see myself from three different perspectives. As I looked at my image in the mirror I said to myself, 'Is that really me?'..." and several other illustrations)
  • Proper 25C

    by Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
    ("After World War II the United States engaged in the most widespread relief program that the world has ever witnessed as billions of dollars were poured into foreign aid to help build or rehabilitate other nations...." and other illustrations)
  • Amazing Grace

    by William Willimon
    ("I got talked into being on the board of one of the fraternities on campus. They have been on probation ever since I've known them. They are so bad Dean Wasoliek only occasionally lets them serve tea in the afternoon, otherwise they’re not allowed to have parties on campus. Bad...")
  • Looking Up to Little Children

    by Jonathan Wilson
    ("John Chrysostom, the greatest preacher of the 4th century, pointed out that even though a child were asked to chose between the queen, dressed in all her riches and beauty, and its own mother dressed in rags the child will always choose its mother over the queen...." and other illustrations)
  • Illustrations

    by Tim Zingale
    A story from Scotland tells of a mother's dramatic rescue of her child. Workmen were blasting rock in a quarry. One day after they had attached the fuse and retired to a safe place and gave the alarm they saw a three year old child wandering across the open space where danger threatened. Every passing second meant death was closing in on the child. The workmen called to the child and waved their arms, but he only looked on their strange antics with amusement. No man dared run forward knowing the explosion was only seconds away. The child most certainly would have been killed, had not his mother appeared at this moment of crisis. Taking in the situation at a glance she did what her mother's heart dictated. She did not run toward her son or yell to frighten him. Instead, she knelt down, opened wide her arms and smiled for him to come. Instantly the child ran towards her. Shortly later the area shook with the force of the explosion, yet the child was safe in his mother's arms. What a picture of the grace of God and of the cross. With outstretched arms on the cross Jesus gives his gracious invitation to the world. Indicating we are to come to him for eternal safety.
  • Pride, Humility, Forgiveness

    by Tim Zingale
    "Workmen were blasting rock in a quarry. One day after they had attached the fuse and retired to a safe place and gave the alarm they saw a three year old child wandering across the open space where danger threatened. Every passing second meant death was closing in on the child..." and another illustration

Other Resources from 2016 to 2018

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Other Resources from 2013 to 2015

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Other Resources from 2010 to 2012

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Other Resources from 2007 to 2009

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Other Resources from 2004 to 2006

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Other Resources from 2001 to 2003

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Resources from the Bookstore

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Children's Resources and Dramas

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The Classics

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Recursos en Español

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