Luke 2: 15-21

Illustrated New Resources

  • Do Not Be Afraid: Choose Love

    by David Russell
    You are probably familiar with the story of the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur. They were bicycle builders from Dayton Ohio who tinkered with various projects and ideas. They were working on a flying machine. They had gone to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, an ideal place to test out their flyer because of regular breezes and a soft landing surface on the beach. In December 1903, after many attempts, the Wright brothers were successful in getting their “flying machine” off the ground. Thrilled, they telegraphed this message to their sister Katherine, back in Dayton: “We have actually flown 120 feet. Will be home for Christmas.” Katherine hurried to the editor of the local newspaper and showed him the message. He glanced at it and said, “How nice. The boys will be home for Christmas.” He totally missed the point. He completely missed the real news. We can miss the real news about Christmas...
  • Holy Name of Jesus

    from Sacra Conversazione
    Names are not incidental, they are integral features of biblical narratives. Luke uses this tradition in his unique fashion. Only Luke tells us that after the birth and awkward visit from the shepherds, Mary and Joseph dutifully set off to have the infant Jesus circumcised according to the law and given his name. Although the selected name was given by “the angel before he was conceived in the womb,” the privilege of announcing the name and teaching it to this child as he grows is given to Mary and Joseph. John Caputo observes: “At circumcision the newborn of God is spoken to even before he can speak, addressed by words he cannot understand, commissioned in advance before uttering a word of his own….”

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!!]
  • Christmas

    Illustrations from the Archives
  • Holiday Classics

    by Sil Galvan
    Raymond Camp, who wrote a column called "Wood, Fish and Stream" for the New York Times, tells of a letter he got from a boy. It read, "Would you tell me where I could find a place to fish that is not more than five or six miles from my house in Queens? I am 14 years old and have saved up enough money to buy a rod, reel and line, but do not know where to go fishing. My father sometimes goes with other men, but he's too busy for me, so I have to find some place I can reach on my bicycle or the subway." The columnist managed to find out the father's name and send him his son's letter with a brief note. He received this reply from the father: "You handed me quite a wallop in your letter, but I am sorry you did not hit me harder and sooner. When I think of the opportunity I might have lost, it frightens me. I do not need to point out that I now have a new fishing companion, and we have already planned a busy spring and summer. I wonder how many other fathers are passing up similar opportunities?"
  • Christmas (C)

    by Bill Loader
    always good insights!
  • Illustrations, Quotes and Lectionary Reflections (New Year's Day)

    by Various Authors
    "We sometimes miss the great opportunities of life because we get sidetracked. I once heard the tale of a talented and gifted bloodhound in England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer. During the chase a fox crossed his path, so he began now to chase the fox. A rabbit crossed his hunting path, so he began to chase the rabbit. After chasing the rabbit for a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path, and he chased the mouse to the corner of a farmer's barn. The bloodhound had begun the hunt chasing a prized male deer for his master and wound up barking at a tiny mouse. It is a rare human being who can do three or four different things at a time--moving in different directions..." And many more...

Illustrated Resources from 2018 and 2019

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  • What's in a Name?

    by Phil Hooper
    In Act II of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, the lovestruck Juliet ponders a difficult circumstance: she, a Capulet, has fallen in love with a man who bears the name of her family’s sworn enemies—the name of Montague. Passionately and hopefully, with youthful optimism, she challenges the conventional wisdom that uniting her name with Romeo’s is an impossibility: “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Anyone who has seen or read Romeo & Juliet knows, however, that Juliet’s optimism is tragically unfounded; the names of Capulet and Montague and their attendant ill-will engulf the two lovers in their families’ violent legacy. A rose, in this case, remains a rose, and it is a thorny, painful one...
  • What Michaelangelo's Flawed Pieta Teaches Us About Mary

    by Terrance Klein
    Michelangelo’s Pietà is one of the world’s most well known and beloved masterpieces. Part of its magic is the depth of its mystery. Renaissance sculptors were masters of making marble look so soft as to fold like fabric. Michelangelo was among the best. The piece is a solid and massive unit. Yet movement courses over all its surfaces. The masterpiece comes with a major flaw, which Michelangelo, perhaps wryly, insisted was a manifestation of grace. Jesus looks his age. He appears to be a dead man in his mid-30s. But you needn’t look all that closely at the Madonna to see a teenage mother. When his critics drew attention to this age discrepancy, Michelangelo quipped, “Chasity enjoys eternal youth.” There is another significant flaw. If the dead figure of Jesus were to stand erect, he would be about six feet tall. If his Mother Mary, who holds him in her lap, stood up, she would be more than twice that height...
  • The House of Bread

    Story Sermon by Anne Le Bas
    There was once a baker who lived in Bethlehem. It was a good place to be a baker, because Bethlehem was surrounded by terraced fields stretching down the high hill on which it stood, which grew good wheat and barley. The grain made fine flour for baking into bread. The town’s name even reflected that. People said that Bethlehem, in Hebrew Beit Lehem, meant “The House of Bread”. The baker had done well for himself in this House of Bread. He was married and had two young daughters, Ruth and Naomi, and he’d been able to build a good house for them all to live in...
  • Claim Your Identity (B)(2018)

    by Joseph Pagano
    ("One of the things that children seem to like about the Harry Potter stories is the names of the characters. They have fun sounds, and their meanings are none too subtle. Severus is a Latin word for 'severe' or 'strict', and Professor Severus Snape is a strict teacher if every there was one...")
  • The Mother Tongue

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    Before we can use a language, we’re trapped inside a darkness and chaos that leave us unable to think or speak as human beings. We see this illustrated in the case of Helen Keller, who was born blind and deaf and was taught to speak only by the extraordinary efforts of a gifted teacher, Annie Sullivan. In a real sense, Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, broke open the world for her. By teaching her language, Annie Sullivan precisely brought Helen Keller out of darkness and chaos and opened up for her the possibility of freedom, thought, deeper feeling, self-expression, and the awareness of love...
  • A Hasty Christmas

    by Carl Wilton
    The shepherds “went with haste.” I never thought much about that line, as many times as I’ve heard it read in worship services, and even read it myself. It’s always seemed a mere transitional line, a segue. If the Christmas story were a play, it could be a stage direction — a humble instruction that gets the characters from one scene to another. “Shepherds exit hastily, stage left.”That reminds me of a play I saw many years ago, back when I was a college student. I was on my Junior Year Abroad, at Oxford University. It was an open-air production of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, presented in one of the historic college quadrangles.Lots of us in the audience, sitting there on our folding chairs, were curious to see how the director would handle Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction, which is part of A Winter’s Tale. The stage direction is: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”It’s a hard enough thing to stage in a conventional theater — but, an open-air production, with no curtain, no scenery? Where were they going to hide the bear, until it was time for his big entrance?Sure enough, as the time for the famous exit drew near, a guy in a bear suit emerged from one of the nearby buildings, his bear head tucked under one arm. He strolled casually over to the edge of the lawn. There he stood for several minutes, like he was waiting for a bus. Then, at just the right moment, he donned his bear-head, entered full carnivorous mode, and chased the proper character off the quad...

Illustrated Resources from 2016 and 2017

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  • The Name Given by an Angel

    by Barrie Bates
    As Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”[1] The irony in Juliet’s speech, of course, serves to justify why the play Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy and not a romantic comedy. Were the lovers not named Capulet and Montague, the end result might have been quite different. Their names mattered. And so, too, with Jesus. The name Jesus, of course, is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous (“yeh-soos”), which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua, meaning roughly “God is salvation.”
  • Christmas Day (B)(2017)

    by C. Clifton Black
  • Incarnation Changes Everything

    by Dawn Hutchings
    So, let me tell you a story about a little boy who wanted to meet God. The little boy knew it was a very long trip to where God Gives, so he packed his suitcase with some tubes of Smarties and some cans of Coke and he set off on his quest to meet God. When the little boy had gone half a mile or so, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to the old woman and he opened up his suitcase. The little boy was about to take a drink from one of his cans of Coke when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry. So, he offered her some of his smarties. The old woman gratefully accepted the smarties and smiled at the little boy. Her smile lit up her whole face...
  • What's in a Name?

    by Emily Kahm
    Though the naming ceremony is the reason for the feast, I’m most intrigued by the verse that says Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Even as the verse grabbed me, it took me several reads to remember why—this verse is quoted in one of my favorite sci-fi novels, Ender’s Shadow, as a nun takes in an undernourished, undersized, but profoundly intelligent orphan and begins to raise him as her own, knowing that he won’t stay hers for very long. Her knowledge of their limited time together means that she treasures all his strange quirks and unexpected habits all the more...
  • The Labyrinth of Her Love

    by Terrance Klein
    Brad was born with a disabled arm and foot, which has kept him from working. He lives with his brother Kirk. Two bachelors, very different in temperament, yet they’re still together after all these years. Delores did that. I wanted to know more. And, do you know how a man does that? He asks a woman, because one difference between most men and most women is that men notice what other people do, while women pay attention to their relationships. Two years ago, I would have asked my mother. Now, I tend to take such a question to the first woman I see. I mean, of course, to the first woman whom I see and whom I know. I’m not trying to frighten folk. What she can tell me about so and so? Often, that’s Jamie, the parish secretary.
  • Christmas Is Not Disposable, And Neither Is Mary

    by Terrance Klein
    This New Year’s feast does more than prolong the celebration of Christmas. It mines more depth from the mystery. If Christ came only to justify us before God, then Christ could have appeared among us as a grown man, ready to die. But the Word is made flesh, the word grows in wisdom and grace among us, because Christ comes to sanctify us, to raise fallen humanity into the heights of his own divinity. The western church calls this our sanctification. The eastern, our divinization. Both far outpace mere justification...
  • Pondering Christmas

    by Anne Le Bas
  • Names

    by Joseph Pagano
    One of the things that children seem to like about the Harry Potter stories is the names of the characters. They have fun sounds, and their meanings are none too subtle. Severus is a Latin word for “severe” or “strict,” and Professor Severus Snape is a strict teacher if ever there was one. “Malfoy” sounds like the French for “bad faith,” mal foi; and draco means “snake” or “dragon” in Latin. Put them together and you get Draco Malfoy, a real bad apple. And the headmaster Dumbledore’s first name is Albus, which means “white,” so we may suppose he is the leader of those on the side of light...
  • The Mother Tongue

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ...language structures consciousness and creates the very possibility of thought and feeling. Before we can use a language, we’re trapped inside a darkness and chaos that leave us unable to think or speak as human beings. We see this illustrated in the case of Helen Keller, who was born blind and deaf and was taught to speak only by the extraordinary efforts of a gifted teacher, Annie Sullivan. In a real sense, Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, broke open the world for her. By teaching her language, Annie Sullivan precisely brought Helen Keller out of darkness and chaos and opened up for her the possibility of freedom, thought, deeper feeling, self-expression, and the awareness of love.
  • What Was Seen at Bethlehem

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith's high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days. had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably Edith doesn't seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie and talking, she says in her whiny voices "Archie, ain't Buck a beautiful person." Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: "You're a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy and you see a beautiful person and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, "Yeah, ain't it too bad."
  • A Word to Treasure

    by Carl Wilton
    In the Harry Potter novels, there’s a magical object that serves as a vessel for memories. It’s called a pensieve (p-e-n-s-i-e-v-e). J.K. Rowling invented the word by combining two others: “pensive,” which means the act of thinking deeply; and “sieve,” a vessel with many holes in it, that lets the water run through but filters out everything worth keeping. In the books, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwart’s, uses his pensieve to offload his own thoughts. It’s a shallow stone bowl, incribed with magical, runic symbols. Inside the bowl is a luminescent soup, composed of multicolored, spaghetti-like strands. “I use the pensieve,” Dumbledore explains to Harry. “One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”
  • The Sound of the Authentic

    by Rob Wright
    Ever heard the name Howard Thurman? He was an extraordinary academic, teacher and preacher of the Christian faith. A Floridian. Some folks say that he is among America's greatest mystics. I heard an audio of him speaking at a college graduation once. He said, "There's something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself." He said the sound of the genuine "...is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that someone else pulls." Thurman went deep. Down into the heart of things. Down into what can make our New Year a happy and even a holy year.

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

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  • Proof of Sonship

    by Phil Bloom
    When a person prays - thinks about God - it helps to have a simple method. I use the TARP method: First, thank God. God has given us an amazing world filled with people created in his image. Then ask. Ask for needs of family and friends, for your own needs - and our world. After you ask, repent. You and I have areas where we lack mercy. Repent. And finally, praise.
  • The Light Shines

    by Tom Cox
    ("The priest was tired. A hard year, Christmas morning Mass beckoned and his head and heart was empty. He needed three holidays. The readings didn’t inspire; Kings, Mary, Bethlehem, a star – He knew all this. What was Christmas, cheapened daily by a thousand mediocre recorded carols selling trivia?...")
  • Holy Janitors (B)(2009)

    by Timothy Crellin
    ("The ancient Romans had among their pantheon a god of doorways. His name was Janus. With two faces, one looking forward and the other looking back, he was the god of beginnings as well as endings. He gives his name, of course, to this month, January, and to janitors, the keepers of doorways...")
  • Mary, Mother of God

    by Mary Durkin
  • A New Year's Resolution With Mary

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
  • How Awesome!

    by Vince Gerhardy
  • Christmas Mass at Dawn

    by Andrew Greeley
  • Eternal Moment, Global Places

    by Peter Haynes
    ("John Paton, a pioneer missionary in the south Pacific, told of how 'hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning them out and killing them. He and his wife prayed thoughout the night that God would deliver. When daylight came, they were amazed to find that the attackers had left, unexplainably. A year later, the chief of the tribe became a Christian, and Paton asked him what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief answered in surprise, "Who were all those men you had with you up there?"'...")
  • The Name of Jesus On Our Lips (A)(2014)

    by Charles Hoffacker
    The year is 1432. The place is Lisbon, Portugal. A terrible plague has broken out. All who are able to do so, flee from the city, and thus they carry the plague to every corner of the country. Thousands of men, women and children are swept away by the cruel disease. People die from it everywhere – at table, in the streets, in their houses, in shops, in marketplaces, in the churches. From one person to the next it spreads, or from a coat, hat or any garment used by the plague-stricken. So many people die from the disease that bodies lie unburied in the streets of the city. Among those left helping the sick is a bishop named Andre Dias. He sees that the plague grows worse each day, so he urges the people, both those dying and those not yet afflicted, to repeat the Holy Name of Jesus. “Write it on cards,” he said, “and keep these cards on your persons; place them at night under your pillows; put them on your doors; but above all, constantly invoke with your lips and in your hearts this most powerful Name.” Bishop Dias goes about as an angel of peace, filling the sick and dying with courage and confidence. The poor sufferers feel within them a new life. Calling on Jesus, they wear the cards on their persons and carry them in their pockets. Before long, the sick begin to improve, those near death rise from their beds, the plague ceases, and the city is delivered from the worst suffering ever to inflict it. The news spreads across the entire country. Soon everyone is praying the Holy Name of Jesus. In a very short time, all Portugal is free from the dread disease...
  • The Power and Gift of Hope in Our Lives

    by Rex Hunt
    One of the seasonal stories which is my favourite is the Mexican legend of the Christmas flower, the poinsettia, with its beautiful, red star-shape. The story tells of Maria and her little brother Pablo. They were very poor but they always looked forward to the Christmas festival. Each year a large manger scene was set up in the village church, and the days before Christmas were filled with parades and parties. The two children loved Christmas but always felt a bit left out because they had no money to buy presents. They especially wished they could give something to the church for Baby Jesus. But they had nothing to give.
  • Today Is Where Your Book Begins

    by Greg Kandra
    There's a song by Natasha Bedingfield that captures that kind of spirit. The song is called Unwritten. In part, it says: 'Drench yourself in words unspoken. Live your life with arms wide open. Today is where your book begins The rest is still unwritten.' I think it's a wonderful way to think about your life – and for us, today, to think about the beginning of a new year.
  • What's in a Name?

    by Linda Kraft
    ("When my husband and I had been married only a few weeks, and we were living under the eaves on the second floor of an old house, our downstairs neighbors knocked on our door one evening. Seems they'd been driving out in the country when they found a very small kitten along the side of the road. They told us they couldn't keep it, as they already had a cat. Would we like to take the little one in?...")
  • Holy Hocus-Pocus

    by Rick Miles
    Larry LaPrise was a not-well-known composer. But one of his compositions is still very well known today, long after his death. Through it he conveyed, probably unintentionally, in musical form what the “hoc est corpus meum”, “hocus pocus” requires of us. It set off a dance craze in the 1940’s that is still going through periodic revivals. Most of you have danced and sung it too, I suspect. This musician was a better theologian than he knew. Unfortunately, he died before anyone really had the chance to celebrate his theological acumen and savvy. The song he wrote that conveys what the Holy hocus-pocus of the Spirit is all about, is this: “You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out, you put your right hand in and you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.” The most important verse is the final one. “You put your whole self in, you put your whole self out, you put your whole self in, and you shake it all about. You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about.” We are God’s people, touched by the Spirit...
  • They Named Him Jesus

    by Peter Perry
  • Mary, the Good Sister-in-Law

    by Gerry Pierse, CSsR
  • The Secret Room

    by Jan Richardson
    ("In his book The Art of Pilgrimage, Phil Cosineau writes that in every pilgrimage, there is a secret room, a place along the path that gives us a different perspective on the deep mystery of our journey. In describing this hidden room, Cosineau draws on a story that poet Donald Hall tells of friends who purchased an old farmhouse...")
  • Giving Birth to God

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    ("Annie Dillard once suggested that we always find God in our lives as Jesus was found in Bethlehem on Christmas, a helpless infant in the straw who must be picked up and nurtured into adulthood: 'God's works are as good as we make them. That God is helpless, our baby to bear, self-abandoned on the doorstep of time, wondered at by cattle and oxen...")
  • Mary, Mother of God

    by Eleonore Stump
    ["In his moving musical composition Like Winter Waiting, John Foley, SJ, has Joseph sing about Mary, 'Who is this woman?' For many people (and, of course, maybe for Joseph too) the question is really, 'Who is this woman to me?' These two questions are very different in character..."]
  • Two Promises for a New Year

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("Tom Ervin was attending a conference for music teachers in New York. While at the conference he purchased a talking metronome. A metronome is a device for counting the beats in a song. Before Tom and his son boarded their flight home, Tom hefted his carry-on bag onto the security-check conveyor belt. The security guard's eyes widened as he watched the monitor...")
  • To Ponder in Our Hearts

    by Brian Volck
    ["In today's gospel, we hear that after the wonders of Jesus' birth, 'Mary treasured all these words (rhemata = acts of utterance) and pondered them in her heart' (Luke 2:19). The location is key. Luke could have said in her mind (rendered in Greek by that slippery term nous), her soul (psyche), or spirit (pneuma), but he insists she pondered everything in her heart (kardia), echoing the wording in Luke 2:51 in case we weren't paying attention..."]

Other Resources from 2018 and 2019

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Other Resources from 2016 and 2017

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Other Resources from 2014 and 2015

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Other Resources from 2012 and 2013

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Other Resources from the Archives

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Resources from the Bookstore

  • *Christmas Music

    by William J. Bausch, from Telling Stories
    ("There was a tap for attention. Everything was eternally still. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed. Everything was poised, ready. The Great Conductor looked around at the stillness, peered at the mute readiness, and then began the majestic sweep of the music, a symphony the Conductor alone had composed. First, there was the soft sound of the trumpets...")
  • *Time Marches On

    by William J. Bausch, from Storytelling the Word
    ("Daniel Boorstin, the historian, says that one of the most significant inventions of all times is the mechanical clock. To be sure, there were sand clocks and water clocks and sun clocks and candle clocks for many millennia, but with the mechanical clock the human race incorporated the night hours into its schedules...")

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable