Matthew 13: 44-52

Illustrated New Resources

  • The Kingdom of Heaven: Priceless

    by Jim Chern
    In the advertising world – it’s rare that a marketing campaign would continue for many years, let alone decades. Yet, the tag-line: there’s some things in life that money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard” part of their “Priceless” campaign has been around since 1997. You’re probably familiar with the concept. A commercial will itemize a list of things that people spend money on and present it under the umbrella of why people are spending this money, why it is worth the cost. As one marketing analyst observed – “before there was such a thing as viral campaigns and internet memes, people were holding up placards at baseball matches listing the prices of various objects and then ending with the word ‘priceless’ to emulate the company’s marketing campaign.” It has been so successful an advertising campaign that not only has it continued for over 23 years here in the US, it has spread to over 100 countries in over 40 different languages. It seems almost a universal understanding that there are some things that money can’t buy – that there are priceless things out there. What are those priceless things for us?...
  • The Good News That God Is for Us

    by Michael Fitzpatrick
    Before November 2018, few seemed familiar with Paradise, California, the hometown for my wife and her family. Since that fateful month, most of the United States and even many overseas know about “Paradise lost.” In a matter of hours, a fire moving at the speed of football fields per second wiped out over 85% of the structures in that quiet community nestled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. My in-laws evacuated to spend a sleepless night with friends in neighboring Chico, staring out the bedroom window at the terrifying orange aura pulsating beneath a smoke cloud blacker than the dead of night surrounding it. The next day, my wife flew in to Sacramento, the nearest airport, to be with her devastated parents. While she was in flight, a freelance photojournalist she knew through her work was tromping into the smoldering remains of the hillside hamlet. Crawling over still warm, blackened logs and through the rubble of lost homes, he came across her parent’s house, still standing. Everything had burned around it, but the home stood. My wife’s parents had no idea as they waited by the baggage carousel in Sacramento Int’l Airport. When my wife landed on the tarmac and turned off the airplane mode on her phone, it lit up with a series of photographs in text messages. A few minutes later, she walked out of the security partition into the baggage claim, and after her mom hugged her, my wife held up her phone with the photos emblazoned on the screen. That is what it means to receive good news...
  • The Kingdom's Like What?

    by Owen Griffiths
    I guess the folks who lived in Jesus’ day weren’t all that different from folks today. A lot of them would put on their “Make Israel Great Again” ball caps in hope that this Jesus guy would turn out to be the kind of Messiah who would restore their idea of what the Kingdom of God should be—a mighty Utopia made up of people just like them. No Romans or other gentiles. It would be feared for its military might by other nations, and have a booming stock market. Jesus had to set them straight about this. That’s what the parables were all about...
  • Sermon Starters (Proper 12A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    A kingdom, Dallas Willard wrote in The Divine Conspiracy, is a place where one person’s influence determines what happens. In the case of the kingdom of God, the kingdom is not for now a geographic spot on a map but rather the kingdom of God is present any place and every place where the influence of Jesus’ living presence determines the shape of life. Wherever and whenever Jesus’ wisdom, Jesus’ wit, Jesus savvy, Jesus’ words, and Jesus’ love mold the words, actions, thoughts, and life patterns of some person or group of persons, then there is where God’s kingdom is manifest. We’ve got to show the world how real the kingdom is by how we conduct ourselves...
  • What Does a Wedding Dress Say About Our Faith?

    by Terrance Klein
    When a woman becomes a Carmelite sister, she wears a wedding dress for the ceremony. It expresses the vocation’s intensity. This commitment is not the beginning of a career. It is a solemn handing over of the self into a singular, intimate relationship with the Lord. The wedding dress brings to light the paradox of faith: the soul’s readiness for an invisible love, its rapture by an untouchable bridegroom. The Jewish philosopher Edith Stein—who became, as a Carmelite, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and who died in Auschwitz and was declared a martyred saint by the Catholic Church—wrote of her wedding dress: “In the bridal union God surrounds the soul with a love that cannot be compared even with the tenderest love of a mother. He gives it His breast, he reveals his secrets to it.” In a profound essay on Stein, the poet Fanny Howe noted that “the silk white wedding dress she wore at her ceremony in April 1934 at the Carmel in Cologne-Lindenthal was afterwards made into a chasuble. In 1944 the convent was destroyed during a bombing attack, but this vestment was saved and continued to have a history of its own.”...
  • Planting Weeds and Hiding Yeast

    by Jim McCrea
    there’s the true story of Tom Stonehill. He was an ordinary guy with an ordinary — if urgent — need. He happened to be driving through a small town one night looking for a public restroom. Nothing seemed to be open until he spotted a funeral home. He went in, used the facilities, and then, out of common courtesy, went in to pay his respects to the deceased. When the funeral director saw Tom in with the body, he insisted that Tom sign the guest register. Tom thought it was a lot of trouble to go through just to use the bathroom, but he did it anyway. A few weeks later, Tom got a phone call from a lawyer in that same small town. It turns out that Tom had visited the funeral home on the night that the town’s richest citizen was being laid to rest. The rich man had no family or friends, so the man’s will had stipulated that whoever came to his funeral would inherit his fortune. Since Tom’s name was the only one in the guest register that night, he received the full inheritance of deceased stranger...
  • Walking with the Wind

    by Jen Nagel
    I’ve been moved this week with the reporting about longtime civil rights leader US Representative John Lewis. His 1998 memoir is titled Walking with the Wind. In the introduction, explaining his choice of titles, Lewis tells the story from his childhood of a summer day that had become stormy, the sky darkening, the wind picking up, lightening flashing in the distance: "About fifteen of us children were outside my aunt Seneva’s house, playing in her dirt yard,” he wrote. Aunt Seneva gathered them inside the little house. Their laughter and play had given way to quiet terror. The wind howled, the rains pounded, and the house began to shake, then to sway, and the wooden floor boards upon which they stood began to bend. “And then,” he wrote, “a corner of the room started lifting up…This storm was actually pulling the house toward the sky” with Aunt Seneva and the 15 children inside. Aunt Seneva instructed the kids line up and hold hands and to walk together toward the corner of the room that was rising. Back and forth they went from the kitchen to the front, “walking with the wind, holding that trembling house down with the weight of [their] small bodies.” Lewis reflects, “More than half a century has passed since that day, and it has struck me more than once over those many years that our society is not unlike the children in that house, rocked again and again by the winds of one storm or another, the walls around us seeming at times as if they might fly apart.” He continues, “It seemed that way in the 1960s, at the height of the civil rights movement, when America itself felt as if it might burst at the seams—so much tension, so many storms. But the people of conscience never left the house. They never ran away. They stayed, they came together and they did the best they could, clasping hands and moving toward the corner of the house that was the weakest.” And then another corner would lift, and we would go there.” He continues, “And eventually, inevitably, the storm would settle, and the house would still stand. But we knew another storm would come, and we would have to do it all over again. And we did. And we still do, all of us. You and I. Children holding hands, walking with the wind..."
  • The Pearl of Great Price and Its Cost

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    A woman I know tells this story: She married a man she loved but, early on in the marriage, she was too immature to responsibly carry her part of the relationship. One night she went to a party with her husband, drank too much, and left the party with another man. Eventually she sobered up and repentantly found her way home, fully expecting the marital skies to be ripped asunder with anger. But her husband though hurt and shaken by what had happened was calm, philosophical, direct. When she walked sheepishly into the room he demanded neither an explanation nor an apology. Ultimately, what is there to say? He simply said to her: “I’m going away for a few days so that you can be alone because you need to decide who you are: are you a married woman or are you something else?” He took a three-day sabbatical from her, she cried, sorted out the question he had put to her, and now, years beyond this painful incident, she is inside a solid marriage and infinitely more aware that the pearl of great price comes precisely at a great price...
  • The Present and Hidden Kingdom

    by Johnny Tuttle
    The leaven, too, is a parable of this catholicity of the Kingdom, permeating every part of the dough, breathing into it the breath necessary for the dense mixture to lighten and rise. Here, Robert Farrar Capon offers an insight that might challenge our assumptions: “[F]or every second of the time the dough is dough, the yeast is inseparable from it. Therefore, for every second of the time the world has been a world, it has also been the kingdom. Its progress through history is not a transition from nonkingdom to kingdom; rather, it is a progress from kingdom-in-a-mystery to kingdom-made-manifest.”...
  • God's Reign Is Like

    by Beth Quick
    Maybe you, like I did recently, took the opportunity to watch Lin-Manuel Miranda’s beautiful musical Hamilton, about Alexander Hamilton and the founding of the United States, when it was released on Disney+ this summer. I’d tried to listen to the music when Hamilton first was becoming popular, but I realized I needed to see the show on stage to really get into it, and I didn’t see that happening anytime soon, as tickets were so expensive. But I’m so glad I got to watch it now, and I can’t get the music out of my head. I particularly love the number called “Satisfied,” sung by the sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton, Angelica Schuyler. Angelica talks about never being satisfied with her life. As a woman in patriarchal society, she feels stuck in her role, trying to do what’s right by her family, even at the expense of her own personal happiness. She laments that she will never really feel satisfied in life...
  • Parables for a Liminal Space

    by Todd Weir
    Liminal is a space between things. It can mean the space between heaven and earth, the space between the past and present. The word comes from the Latin root Limen, which is the bottom part of the doorway that must be crossed to enter a building. I think we are collectively standing in a doorway of history at this moment. There is no way to step back into the past we knew only a few months ago. When we can’t be near each other, we are pushed out of the room and into the doorways. And yet where do we go as we step through the doorframe? I don’t have a clear picture of what is on the other side. There is not a new life, a new church, or a new society to step into yet. It’s all a leap of faith. I’ve been reading a book called “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going,” by Susan Beaumont. She notes that the Bible is full of these liminal spaces. Noah must build an ark to get to a new future. Abraham and Sarah have to journey to a new land. Jacob must wrestle with the angel. Jonah is carried in the belly of whale back to Nineveh. Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness to get to the Promised Land. These are all stories of liminal times and spaces...

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.]
  • Five and a Half Parables

    by D. Mark Davis
    (includes lots of Greek exegesis!!)
  • Our Treasure Is Where Our Heart Is

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, was "not without rough edges," as her biographer Jim Forest tells us. Dorothy had started life as a most unlikely saint--and didn't appreciate being called a saint, even after people began to view her that way..." and other illustrations)
  • Pearl of Great Price

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Once there was a skilled basket weaver. He was a simple man who enjoyed weaving his baskets. He whistled and sang and passed the day happily as he worked, making his beautiful baskets. He would welcome customers warmly and readily express his gratitude for their patronage..." and other illustrations)
  • At the Movies

    by Sil Galvan
    Perhaps some of you may have watched the HBO documentary this past week with William and Harry, Princess Diana's sons, as we near the 20th anniversary of her death next month. They remembered her lovingly but both of them are haunted by one thing. They were vacationing with their father Charles when Diana was in Paris in August of 1997. They said that they hated phone calls and were playing with their cousins at the time. So when Diana called them a few hours before the accident that killed her, they were eager to return to their activities and tried to end their conversations as quickly as possible. They both shared that if they had known what would happen, those conversations would have been very different. And they have regretted ever since that they never had a chance to tell her how much they loved her...
  • Treasure of the Heart

    by Sil Galvan
    In this particular family, there was a tradition that when a child graduated from high school, the father would give them a new car. In this one case, the father and son even went so far as to shop around and had picked a good vehicle. When the big day came, the father presented his son with a fairly large box. He tore it open only to find a bible inside. In disgust, he threw the book on the floor and left the house, never to speak to his father again. Some years later, the father died. The son regretted his actions and attended the funeral. Afterwards, he returned to his father's house, went to his father's room and there on the desk saw the bible. He opened it and inside found a cashier's check for the purchase price of the car they had checked out.
  • Priceless Treasure

    by Vince Gerhardy
    ("I recall a speaker talking about goals opening his presentation by stating something to this effect, "Life is short. In a blink of an eye I will 80 years old and I will look back on my life either happy that I have achieved all the things that I wanted to achieve or look back and regret that now I am too old to do the things that I wanted to do but never got around to doing. He went on to say how important it is to have goals..." and other illustrations)
  • Real Pearls

    Humorous Illustration
    ("Two older women, who were rivals in a social circle, met at a party. 'My dear,' said the first woman 'Are those real pearls?'...")
  • Treasure Hunter

    An Illustration
    ("About 15 years ago an Australian treasure-hunter was using a metal detector to scout for small gold nuggets in one of that country's old mining areas. On a whim, he moved his search into the local school yard, where something set his machine off. Digging down, he was thrilled to discover what he thought was a nugget the size of a marble...")
  • Proper 12A

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 13.31-33,44-52)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)
  • Stories Jesus Told: All In

    by Carl Wilton
    ("There was a remarkable news story last week. I don't know if you caught it. It was about something very precious that was lost for 35 years, then found again. It was a Stradivarius violin, nearly three hundred years old, crafted by that most renowned of violin makers. It belonged to Roman Totenberg, one of the world's greatest concert violinists. Totenberg was a Polish Jew who fled to America on the eve of World War II, at the height of his career. Mr. Totenberg's Stradivarius was stolen in 1980, after a concert he gave at the Boston music school where he taught...")
  • A Simple Plan

    Movie Analysis by Jenee Woodard

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

  • Want to Know Who You Are? Ask What You Want.

    by Terrance Klein
    Who am I? It is a profound question, except when you are playing it as an ice-breaker game. Then a famous name is affixed to your forehead, and you guess your identity by asking yes-or-no questions of the other participants. Typically you narrow down the attributes that the name carries. Am I a fictional character? An athlete? Am I on television? Am I still alive? Strange thing is, life demands a similar task of us: finding out who we truly are, beyond the names that we have been given or chosen. We might presume that our truest identity is hidden deep within ourselves, but it is probably much closer to the surface than we suspect. In fact, others can aid us in finding ourselves.
  • Sisters in Purgatory

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    The Biblical story is about contrast and difference - in personality, in looks, in fertility, in affection. Medieval poet Dante continued the tradition of contrasting the two sisters when he put them in Purgatory. The illustration here is a watercolor by English Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In the background (at left) is the poet, and in front are the two sisters. Which would you identify as Leah and which as Rachel?
  • In Search of Hidden Treasure

    by David Sellery
    The kingdom of God will not be built by a few great saints. It will take millions of sinners, like you and me… getting up every day, witnessing Christ’s love in all of our relationships… trusting him in our frustrations and infirmities… often failing, often falling… but always being forgiven in true contrition… being fortified in grace… then getting up again, resolved to build the kingdom anew.
  • Treasure

    by Carl Wilton
    A wealthy woman came into Catholic Worker House, and Dorothy Day gave her the grand tour. The visitor was mightily impressed, and at the end of the tour she took out her checkbook and made a generous donation. She started, then, to walk out, but turned around and came back. On impulse, she pulled a diamond ring off her finger, and gave it to Dorothy. One of Dorothy’s associates saw the size of that shimmering rock, and thought this was a wonderful thing. The organization was chronically short of money. She knew that ring could be sold for a tidy sum. Imagine her astonishment, later that day, when she spied that very diamond ring sparkling on the finger of a woman from the neighborhood who had come into the Catholic Worker House for help.. Well, the staffer went up to Dorothy and asked her how that client had gotten hold of the diamond ring. “I gave it to her,” said Dorothy, matter-of-factly “What were you thinking?” asked the staff member. “Don’t you know that, if we sold that ring, we could pay that woman’s rent for a year?” Dorothy just looked at her for a moment. Then she said that, as far as she was concerned, the woman could do whatever she wanted with the ring. She could sell it for rent money or she could take a trip to the Bahamas. Or, she could simply enjoy wearing a diamond ring on her finger. “Do you suppose,” Dorothy asked, “that God created diamonds only for the rich?”...
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Judgment

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Wisdom

    Compiled by Jenee Woodward

Illustrated Resources from 2011 to 2016

  • Hidden Treasure

    by Phil Bloom
    ("Sancho Panza served Don Quixote with the hope of one day becoming a governor. As governor he will gain wealth and prestige - and above all, be able to elevate his wife and children. As things work out, Sancho finally does obtain a governorship. But before that happens, he has an experience where he sees earth from above. From that viewpoint our planet looks as small as a mustard seed...")
  • Parables of the Kingdom?

    by Christopher Burkett
    ("I remember the film clip of a camel herder struggling to get his emaciated beast to its feet knowing that if he didn't its death would mark the end of any chance he had of feeding his family. Drought had driven down the value of animals while things like maize had increased in price by 500% or more. A goat there was worth less than the cost of a pair of plastic flip-flops...")
  • The Greatest of All Shrubs

    by Kyle Childress
    ("I have a woman in my congregation who has Multiple Sclerosis. Since I've known her she has declined from a very active life, involved in a variety of concerns including backpacking and camping, to a person who is in a wheelchair and some days can't get out of the house. But every single day she writes letters and notes and cards. Every day...")
  • Proper 12A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "My uncle loved mechanical clocks and pump organs. He spent a considerable amount of energy looking for clocks and organs. He expended an equally considerable amount of money acquiring said clocks and organs. And he spent most of the last 20 or 30 years of his life repairing and maintaining those clocks and organs. Last estimate I heard was that he had over a hundred clocks and 13 organs in that old house when he died..."
  • Hidden Treasure

    by Denis Hanly, MM
    There was a little girl in a big forest and she got separated from all the family that was picnicking in the forest and she got lost. And so everybody ran searching all over the place for the little girl and they searched all afternoon. And evening began and people began to go home and the only one left was the father. The father wouldn’t give up. And it’s dark and damp and the father is worried about the little girl. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do. And, finally, what happened to the little girl? Well, she got tired of looking for the father and family and she found a nice grassy spot in the middle of the forest and it was open so she lay down and went to sleep. And then the father is screaming and yelling and calling and everything and, finally, he tumbles onto the little area and his daughter wakes up and she jumps up and she runs across to him. And he’s so happy and she jumps into his arms and she says, “I’ve finally found you, Daddy.” She thinks she found him and forgot about all his trouble and all his tears and all his work...
  • The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like Yeast

    by Janet Hunt
    ("I am no stranger to baking bread. I learned the skill from my mother who learned it from her mother who, no doubt, learned it from hers. I hoped that the hands-on routine of measuring the flour, proofing the yeast, and sinking my hands deep into the dough to knead it would be a comfort. I knew the sight, the sounds, the texture, the smells would tie me to my own past in ways that promised to be a much needed gift...")
  • Elaine Stritch and the Pearl of Great Price

    by Terrance Klein
    ("Elaine Stritch's father, an executive with B.F. Goodrich in Detroit, Michigan, took his little Catholic girl—How Catholic? Her uncle was Samuel Cardinal Stritch of Chicago—to see a touring production of the Ziegfeld Follies. Afterwards, Elaine's father took her backstage to meet the show's star, Bobbie Clark. 'From that moment on,' she recalled, 'I was hooked.'...")
  • God Spotting

    by Jim McCrea
    "Al Henager tells of a formal banquet sponsored by the hospital where he served as chaplain. All employees and retirees of that hospital — and their families — were invited to this banquet every year. And everyone was expected to dress up in their very best clothes for the occasion. He writes: '[An] older woman who had retired from dietary services had only one son who was retarded. Their only means of transportation was a riding lawnmower..." and other quotes and illustrations
  • What Is God's Kingdom Like?

    by Jim McCrea
    "In the book Warriors Don't Cry, the author, Melba Pattillo Beals, tells of her experience as one of the young African-American students who integrated Little Rock's Central High School in 1957. The book is based on the diary she kept at the time. That school year proved to be a time of constant harassment by the white students, who did what they could to make life miserable for Beals and the other African-American students..."
  • Anyone Found a Pez Dispenser?

    by Larry Patten
    ("In early July 2014, Mr. Jason Buzi continued his Hidden Cash social media experiment by hiding envelopes with money in Fresno's Woodward Park. According to the Fresno Bee: 'Thousands of people descended on Woodward Park in north Fresno—triggering a traffic jam at the park entrances—after hints began flowing on Twitter and Facebook shortly before 5:30 p.m. Some people were sniffing around in the sprawling park on instinct, however, even before the first tweeted hints...")
  • The Treasure of the Church

    by Ron Rohlheiser, OMI
    ("St. Lawrence was the deacon in small community during the third century. One day, word came from the local civic authority that the government was going to confiscate church properties and that it was coming around to collect anything that Lawrence's small community had which was of value. An edict was given to Lawrence stating that, on a certain day designated, he was to have all the 'treasures of the church' readied so that the soldiers could come and pick them up...")
  • Growing Up in the Kingdom of God

    by Alex Thomas
    "In his life story, G. K. Chesterton revealed the secret by which he recovered the reality and radiancy of vital religion. As a young person he became muddled and confused not knowing what to do with his life or what to make of it. He described himself as being shipwrecked on the shoals of doubt and unbelief..."
  • Deal of the Century

    by Keith Wagner
    ("One time a man was walking in New York City in a very dejected state of mind. Actually, he was more than dejected, he was suicidal. He was seriously contemplating climbing over the railing that separated the promenade from the river and throwing himself in. Life for him felt empty, meaningless, and hollow. He felt that the writing he had devoted himself to for decades had no real value, and didn't amount to much. He therefore was questioning what he had accomplished in life..." and other illustrations)

Illustrated Resources from 2008 to 2010

  • The Great Prize

    by John Bedingfield
    Jesus said that the Kingdom is like yeast that a woman mixed in with 3 measures of flour. There are two interesting features here. First, Jesus mentions yeast in a positive way. Yeast is a leavening agent. Leaven is produced by something that has become rotten or rancid. Therefore, to Jews of Jesus’ day, leaven was the rotten part – the part not to be touched. Leaven was always used to compare a thing with something that was corrupt. So, when Jesus mentions the woman putting yeast in her bread, that would’ve been thought to have spoiled the bread. But Jesus says it is like the Kingdom of heaven. It makes a little more sense when we realize that the 3 measures would have been about 10 gallons of flour. When the woman added the yeast and let the dough rise, she would’ve created enough bread out of 3 measures to feed some 150-200 people...
  • All Things Work for Good

    by Phil Bloom
    ("I'd like to tell you about someone who illustrates the power of God's providence - St. Catherine of Siena. She was the 24th child of Giacomo de Benincasa and Lapa Piagenti...")
  • Mustard, Mustard and More Mustard

    by Daniel Deffinbaugh
    "Finally, I think it is important not to overlook another possible interpretation for this parable, one that has been brought to light in Bernard Brandon Scott's excellent book Hear Then the Parable..." and other good background info
  • The Kin-dom of Heaven Is Like

    by Gary Lake Dillensnyder
    ("I was watching an episode of The Deadliest Catch the other day. One of the crew got injured ... broken ribs ... which might seem somewhat trivial when such work is clearly noted as deadly...")
  • Ordinary 17A (2008)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a good Catholic layman who wanted to run for political office so that he could clean up politics and eliminate political corruption...")
  • Preaching Helps

    by Scott Hoezee
    ("A kingdom, Dallas Willard recently wrote in The Divine Conspiracy, is a place where one person's influence determines what happens. In the case of the kingdom of God, the kingdom is not for now a geographic spot on a map but rather the kingdom of God is present any place and every place where the influence of Jesus' living presence determines the shape of life...")
  • Pictures of God's Realm

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several good quotes)
  • You Can Do It. Risk Re-Imagining the World

    by Rex Hunt
    Frederick Buechner says: “It is not just that the Kingdom is like a pearl of great price, a mustard seed, leaven... but it is also within them, as it is also within us. Pearls, seeds, fields, leaven, the human heart, all of them carry within them something of the holiness of their origin. It is the wholest and realest part of their reality and of ours”
  • Shock Jock Savior

    by John Pavelko
    Shock jocks such as Don Imus intentionally employ offensive language and hyperbole to jolt the emotions of their listening audience. They do not respect social norms and traditions. Sacred cows are their favorite target. While some find such antics offensive, they do serve a useful purpose. They hold public figures accountable. The mere trace of hypocrisy by a prominent public figure becomes a shock jock's ammunition. The congressman that Imus ridiculed had blocked the passage of a bill to authorize funds for research in autism, a favorite Imus charity. Shock jocks do not write books on how to win friends and influence people. They disregard social etiquette. They are not invited to delicate political events at which the President is trying to impress the visiting dignitary. They make terrible counselors. They revel in making the embarrassingly private mistakes public. Sock jocks would make terrible teachers. They do not display any patience on the air with slow learners or stubborn pupils. That is why we struggle to believe that in his day, Jesus would have been considered a shock jock. Jesus was the epitome of anti-establishment...
  • Something Old, Something New

    by Jan Richardson
    ["While I was at St. John's University in Minnesota last week, I made a couple of visits to the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (known in those parts as the HMML). The Benedictine monks of St. John's founded the HMML to preserve the medieval manuscript heritage of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East..."]
  • The Joy of Little Things

    by James Standiford
    ("A long time ago a baby was born to poor parents. His future looked bleak as he grew to experience a life of dreariness and poverty. He joined the army as a common soldier and was wounded so severely that he never regained the use of his left arm..." and other illustrations)
  • Deal With It, Get Over It, and Get Help

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("In 1973 a gang of bank robbers held up the Kreditbanken (Credit Bank) in Stockholm, Sweden. The police interrupted their heist, but the bank robbers proceeded to hold a number of bank employees hostage for six long days...")

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • The Pearl

    by Bob Allred
    ("John Steinbeck captured the intent of Jesus’ parable about a pearl of great price in his novel entitled . Kino, a poor Mexican pearl diver was living a happy albeit spartan life with his wife and child. Then he found a magnificent pearl...")
  • Surprising Uprisings: Little Things, Little People Mean a Lot

    by John Auer
    ("Wink says, 'What we need is a portable form of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where we can unburden ourselves of this accumulated suffering. We need to experience it; it is a part of reality...")
  • The Pearl of Great Price

    by Phil Bloom
    ("When I was in Peru, I had a long conversation with an old friend – a European priest who came to Peru in the early seventies. Unlike the rest of us, he became a Peruvian citizen and diocesan priest...")
  • Journey toward Wholeness

    by Fred Buechner
    ("Naya was born in Washington, D.C. two years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln there and lived well into her nineties. Like everybody else, she had her happy times and her sad times, her weaknesses and her strengths, her good luck and her bad luck, but what makes her so rare in my experience is that, no matter what happened to her, she seemed always to remain remarkably and invincibly herself...")
  • The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like...

    by George Butterfield
    ("We used to have a daughter named Chiara. She was beautiful. And a personality? She'd walk into a room and just light it up. I thought we'd never get through the teenage years but we managed without too many crises. She was a young man magnet...")
  • What Are We Looking For?

    by Tom Cox
    ("A certain man went to Church one Sunday... He frowned when the organist missed a note. He stared menacingly at two whispering teenagers. He looked repeatedly at his watch...")
  • You're a Treasure

    by Tom Cox
    ("We lost sight of what's important, like one depressed letter writer to a column which told of how a flash flood had destroyed forty-five years of family treasures, irreplaceable letters and photos. Living with her husband, with children all moved away, she found her loss inconsolable...")
  • The Pearl of Great Price

    by Anthony DeMello, SJ
    ("The sannyasi (holy man) had reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, 'The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!'..."
  • Looking for the Kingdom of God Too High Up and Too Far Away

    by William Dols
    ("In 1925, at Dayton, Tennessee, William Jennings Bryan was an associate prosecutor in the trial of the school teacher John Thomas Scopes. Scopes had taught the biological theory of evolution to his students in defiance of a state law prohibiting the teaching of doctrine contrary to the Bible....")
  • Ordinary 17A (1996)

    by Mary Durkin
    ("According to a Jewish folktale, Isaac, a poor man who lived in the city of Krakow, had a recurring dream about a treasure in a box under a bridge in the city of Prague...")
  • The Summum Bonum

    by Ernest Munachi Ezeogu, CSSP
    "It is not uncommon that a child be asked to round up a mother hen with a brood of, say, seven chickens. The child, invariably, would start with the small chickens. But as the chickens run and duck the child would fall over so many times before catching even one chicken..."
  • Seed, Yeast, and Treasures Old and New

    by Richard Fairchild
    ("Did you know that Canadians consume more coffee and have more coffee shops per capita than any other nation on the face of the earth.... Anyway I was enjoying a rounded sugar, double cream - and I met this man who lived in my community, but I, and many others in the church, really didn't know him ...")
  • What We Wish For

    by Richard Fairchild
    ("A man is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie. The genie says, "Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes....")
  • Celebrating the Good Stuff

    by Justin K. Fisher
    ("Did you hear the one about the “pricey donkey”? Seems a city boy moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the mule the next day..." and other illustrations)
  • A Nickel's Worth

    by Patricia Gillespie
    ("Johnny used to hang out at the local corner market. The owner didn't know what little Johnny's problem was, but the other boys would constantly tease him. They would always comment that he was two bricks shy of a load, or two pickles short of a barrel...")
  • The Ecstasy and the Agony

    by Scott Grant
    ("In Solzhenitsyn's One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich, Shukhov, a prisoner in the gulags, wrote to his wife early on and told her not to send any packages so as to use their skimpy resources for their children...")
  • Ordinary 17A (2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was an eighth grade football team that inherited a tradition of losing almost all the games of a season. The other parishes in the league provided uniforms, a coaching staff, even summer training...")
  • Ordinary 17A (2002)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time a couple of years ago a farmer came into his house one night and said to his wife there is a roman soldier buried in the farm next door, right in the south forty that's right next to ours...")
  • Ordinary 17A (2005)

    by Walter Harms
    ("What really makes a deep, lasting impression on you? The Teton Mountains of Wyoming, looming up in their snow-capped grandeur to a boy of 14! Standing at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge looking up at its towering strength...")
  • Entrusted with Treasure

    by Peter Haynes
    ("In Robert Lewis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island, a boy in the process of becoming a man sails forth on a fantastic journey in search of pirate’s gold. Along the way, he is befriended by various older men, who serve as guides through treacherous seas...")
  • Glimpses of God's Reign

    by Beth Johnston
    On the TV program Home Improvement, Tim, the clutzy TV host has a faceless neighbour named 'Wilson' who speaks words of wisdom in a somewhat confusing and storied form from behind a fence and from under an omnipresent hat. Like so many of Jesus' listeners Tim never gets the point...
  • Jesus Spoke in Parables

    by Steve Kelsey
    One day, a friend of mine named Judy decided to bake bread. She took out the recipe and carefully gathered all the ingredients it called for; then she began to follow the recipe. Except that Judy made one little mistake. Instead of adding one cake of yeast to the mix as required, she added one whole box-several cakes of yeast. You can imagine what happened. The dough began to grow and grow and grow. She added more flour-and it kept growing and growing. She added more water, and it kept growing. More salt, more wheat germ, more oil-and it just kept growing and growing. She tried cutting the mound of dough in half, pounding it, caressing it, covering it, pleading with it-and it kept growing and growing and growing. Finally, in desperation, Judy went out and buried the huge lump of dough in her front yard, came back inside, and sat down in the living room to watch TV. Within an hour, her father came bursting through the front door screaming: "THERE'S SOMETHING GROWING IN OUR FRONT YARD!!!" You know what happened. The heat of the sun on that summer day beat down on that ill-fated mound of dough, that unbaked loaf, even though it was buried in the ground and brought the yeast back to life-and it had started growing again and BURST out of the ground! Even its grave couldn't contain it, so irresistible was the life of that yeast which Judy had hidden in her bread dough.
  • Three Parables

    by Paul Larsen
    ("Tom Stonehill was driving through a small town one night looking for a public restroom. Finally, he came to a funeral home. Tom used the facilities, then paid his respects to the deceased. The funeral director, spotting Tom, insisted that he sign the guest register...")
  • The Mustard Seed

    by Edward Markquart
    ("One time, I was down there in southwestern Oregon, between Grants Pass and Crescent City in northern California. I was a Minnesota boy from a farming town and so I had never seen the ocean and I had never seen big, big trees. Down there in southwestern Oregon, my wife and I drove into Stout Grove. Stout Grove had the biggest, most giant redwood trees that I had ever seen...")
  • Treasures and Pearls

    by Edward Markquart
    ("It was seven weeks ago that a young family, a mother, father and two young children, moved here to the Des Moines area. They were looking for a new home for their family, a perfect home with a perfect fit...")
  • Ordinary 17A

    by Jim Mazzone
    ("When I was a Theology major at St. Anselm College, a number of my friends were CJ majors -- Criminal Justice. If you think priests who were once seminarians are characters, you should get a load of my now-police-officer-and-state-trooper-friends who were once CJ majors!...")
  • Simply Irresistible

    by Jim McCrea
    ("There's an old folk tale about an extremely tight-fisted moneylender in London to whom a poor merchant owed a considerable amount of money. When the debt came due, the merchant had nothing with which to pay even a portion of his balance...")
  • Finding Is the First Act

    by Stephen Nash
    "Finding is the First Act is the title of a book by the Jesus scholar John Dominic Crossan, who took it from Emily Dickinson’s poem. I wasn’t familiar with the poem, and when I looked it up and read it I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It was one of those poems that has words but doesn’t seem to say anything..."
  • Ordinary 17A (2005)

    by Paul O'Reilly, SJ
    ("I was reading this week about Sierra Leone. The country has been all but destroyed by a most brutal civil war fought for the control of its diamond wealth. So I was much moved to read this week of the work of Fr. Chemo Caballero of the Xaverian Order with traumatized children there...")
  • Proper 12A (2002)

    by William Oldland
    There's a charming story that a CEO of a very large insurance company tells on himself: He and his wife were driving along an interstate highway when he noticed that their car was low on gas. The CEO got off the highway at the next exit and soon found a rundown gas station with a single gas pump marked “Full Service”. He asked the lone attendant to fill the tank and check the oil, and then went for a little walk around the station to stretch his legs. As he was returning to the car, he noticed that the attendant and his wife were engaged in an animated conversation. The conversation stopped as he paid the attendant. But as he was getting back into the car, he saw the attendant wave and heard him say, "It was great talking to you." As they drove out of the station, the CEO asked his wife if she knew the man. She readily admitted she did. They had gone to high school together and had dated steadily for about a year. "Boy, were you lucky that I came along," bragged the CEO. “If you had married him, you'd be the wife of a gas station attendant instead of the wife of a chief executive officer." "My dear," replied his wife, "if I had married him, he'd be the chief executive officer and you'd be the gas station attendant."...
  • Hair Bear, Is That You?

    by Ray Osborne
    ("Way back when I was a college student I was far from being a typical theology student. I had a BIG HUGE RED afro and a BIG HUGE BUSHY beard! Everyone had dubbed me with the nickname - "Hair Bear." When it came to by classes in biblical studies I REALLY gave the professors a fit!...")
  • Proper 12A (2002)

    by Joe Parrish
    ("An interesting point about the mustard plant is that it is part of a large family of plants called Cruciferae. If you listen to that word carefully you will see a very interesting description of those plants. Their flowers spread in a cruciform manner; two petals are arranged diagonally from two other petals, making the form of a cross...")
  • The Power of Hiddenness

    by John Pavelko
    ("Neil and Susan Thomas invited the Fleetwoods over for a backyard barbecue. It was a hot summer weekend and they wanted to relax with their friends. The Thomas' and Fleetwoods were members of the same church and served on many of the same committees...")
  • The Realm of God Is Like...

    by Michael Phillips
    ("In David Adam’s Borderlands, he writes: 'The world and time have a habit of bringing all things to nothing. There is a sense in which nothing seems to endure. There is something about nature and the human being which does not last...")
  • Fistful of Bohol

    by Gerry Pierse, C.Ss.R
    ("There is a story about a Boholano who died and was told that he could go to heaven. [For those who are not enlightened, many jokes in the southern Philippines are told about Boholanos. It is a tribute to the island that produced Carlos P. Garcia, the fifth President of the Republic, that it is the people of Bohol that make most of these jokes themselves...")
  • Keys to the Kingdom

    by Beth Quick
    ("In one of my favorite books The Last Battle from the Chronicles of Narnia, the characters are thrown into a very small stable. However, once inside, instead of finding a dark and smelly animal shelter, they find that there are blue skies and green trees all around...")
  • Discovering the Treasures Within and Without

    by Paddy Quirke
    ("There is a rune (mark of mysterious significance), found in both Ireland and Gaelic Scotland: 'I saw a stranger yesterday I put food for him in the eating place, Drink for him in the drinking place, Music for him in the listening place...")
  • Hidden Treasures

    by Gary Roth
    ("One of the most difficult but most rewarding of all Christian experiences is what some of the great saints call the 'winter of the spirit' - the times when God seems hidden from our eyes, and even our faith can no longer seem to reach him...")
  • Seeds in Gospel Land

    by Alex Thomas
    Little things mean a lot: For want of a nail the shoe was lost For the want of a shoe the horse was lost For the want of a horse the rider was lost For the want of a rider the battle was lost For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost And all for want of a horse-shoe-nail.
  • Discussions on the Parables

    from Various Sources
  • Deal of the Century

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Recently I read a very profound book Beachcombing at Miramar by Richard Bode. It’s about an executive who left the corporate world, divorced his wife and lives on a beach. He traded all his worldly comforts and success to be one with nature...")
  • Heaven Is Like This...

    by Keith Wagner
    One time a man was walking in New York City in a very dejected state of mind. Actually, he was more than dejected, he was suicidal. He was seriously contemplating climbing over the railing that separated the promenade from the river and throwing himself in. Life for him felt empty, meaningless, hollow. He felt that the writing he had devoted himself to for decades had no real value, and didn’t amount to much. What had he accomplished in life? As he stood staring at the dark, swirling water, trying to summon up the courage to jump in an excited voice interrupted his thoughts. "Excuse me," said the young woman, "I’m sorry to impose upon your privacy, but aren’t you Christopher D’Antonio, the writer?" He nodded indifferently. "I hope you don’t mind me approaching you, but I just had to tell you what a difference your books have made in my life. They have helped me to an incredible degree and I just wanted to thank you." "No, my dear, it is I who have to thank you," D’antonio said as he wheeled around, turned away from the East River and headed back home.

    and other illustrations

  • Look What I Found!

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Recently I had a conversation with a middle-aged woman who literally went from rags to riches. She now has everything a woman could want; an expensive home, nice cars, modern furniture, membership in a country club, and beautiful children...")
  • Go for the Gold

    by William Willimon
    ("Renowned preacher, theology professor and storyteller Fred Craddock swears this happened to him: He was visiting in a home of one of his former students after graduation, and after a great dinner, the young parents excused themselves and hustled the kids off to bed...")

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