Matthew 23: 1-12

Illustrated New Resources

  • Sermon Starters (Proper 26A)(2020)

    by Scott Hoezee
    Although I am quite certain I won’t be doing so anytime soon, if I ever felt inclined to write a letter to Pope Francis in Rome, papal etiquette would suggest that I close and sign my letter as follows: “Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness and imploring the favor of your apostolic benediction, I have the honor to be, Very Holy Father, with the deepest veneration of Your Holiness, the most humble and most obedient servant and son, Scott.” As someone has wryly noted, this may explain why the pope gets so few postcards! Whether or not any given pope would ever insist on such a salutation, the fact is that over time, honorifics and titles of privilege and prestige have most assuredly accumulated for members of the clergy. The pope is addressed as “Very Holy Father” or “Your Holiness,” cardinals and bishops are often referred to as “Your Eminence,” ordinary priests are always addressed as “Father.” Although the Catholic Church is a fairly obvious and large example of this kind of thing, they hardly have that market cornered. In my own Dutch tradition of the Reformed church, for a very long time every pastor was hailed as “Dominie,” which has clear connections to the Latin dominus or “lord.” These days few people in my tradition still use “Dominie,” but “Reverend” and “Pastor” are still pretty common.
  • Seating Arrangements

    by Michael Ruffin
    I have had a recurring—well, I don’t know what you’d call it. I’m pretty sure it’s not a vision (I know I don’t go into a trance). Maybe it’s just a fantasy. Maybe it’s just the result of my imagination running away with me. Or maybe it’s a hope. Whatever it is, I’ve decided to put it in writing for the first time. So here goes. Jesus has returned. The great messianic banquet is taking place. There is a head table. Other tables go out from the head table as far as even our new heavenly eyes can see. Jesus is sitting at the center of the head table. A group of people are milling about near it. They are as close to it as they can get without standing on the same side where Jesus sits. I recognize some of them. They were famous on Earth. They were big-time preachers and pastors. They were powerful in church circles and in politics. They sought and attained the limelight. They appeared on talk shows and news broadcasts. They are shaking each other’s hands, slapping each other’s backs, and telling each other how much they’re looking forward to receiving their reward for all the ways they served the kingdom of God...

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
  • The Paradox of Honor

    by D. Mark Davis
    includes lots of Greek exegesis!
  • Humility

    by Jerry Fuller, OMI
    ("Brothers David and John Livingstone had very different goals for their lives. John dreamed of being rich and famous. From a young age, David dreamed of following Christ. Both boys achieved their goals..." and other illustrations)
  • The Humble Bamboo

    by Sil Galvan
    Jules Janssen is a civil engineer who thinks he has found a revolutionary building material that could replace wood, concrete, steel, or brick in building houses in Third World countries. The solution is bamboo. Although a bamboo seed takes about five years to first produce a shoot, once it starts growing it grows about 3 feet per day. That's 21 feet per week. Unlike trees, which may take two decades or more to reach maturity, bamboo is an easily renewable resource. Although the bamboo cane is hollow, it is extremely strong. In compression tests, bamboo could withstand more force than brick, concrete, or wood.
  • Reveling in the Perks

    by Sil Galvan
    Some years ago, the golfing world - and many outside of the golfing world - were stunned by the death of pro-golfer Payne Stewart, along with five others. At his funeral service, he was eulogized as a loving and caring husband, father and friend. But it had not always been so. In his eulogy, his friend and fellow golfer Paul Azinger noted that years ago, Payne had been known for his occasional outbursts of pride, sarcasm and cynicism. But gradually over time, in the years after the death of his father in 1985, he had mellowed. And as he had, he had also transformed his image from someone who might brush past reporters or fans when he was upset to one of the most approachable players on the tour. "I'm a lot more mature and happier," he said earlier that year. "I've learned what's really important."
  • Proper 26A

    by Bill Loader
    (always good insights!)
  • Exegetical Notes (Matthew 23:1-12)

    by Brian Stoffregen
    (excellent exegesis)

Illustrated Resources from 2017 to 2019

  • There's No Heroes Anymore

    by Jim Chern
    I think of NYPD Police Officer Ryan Nash, who did what countless men and women in uniform do on a regular basis when a terrorist went on a rampage in New York City on Tuesday, . This was the opposite of common sense – he ran towards the danger rather as opposed to escaping it, thankfully put an end to the madness before the situation exacerbated (and was able to do so without ending the terrorists’ life). I think of this single mom, who, in my first parish assignment, sent her son - this little guy Darryl - on public transportation far away from his neighborhood into our parish school only because she wanted him to have a good Catholic education in a happy, safe environment (that she could afford) - worked extra hours to make ends meet. That was over 15 years ago as well. Having bumped into him recently and seeing him graduating from one of the most prestigious Universities in the world and married - and seeing how he remains a grounded, humble, kind young man (who was attending Mass with his mother) was truly gratifying...
  • The Bogus

    from Claretians
    We are always shocked when we discover good people that are bogus, phony, and plastic - Pharisees. But then one day we tumble to the bogus in ourselves! We discover how pharisaical we, ourselves, are! Perhaps one of the greatest burdens that we have to carry in life is the image people have of us. It creates expectations and if we are not careful, we can become slaves of these expectations. One of the most dangerous "images" is that of "being holy." We can be forced to live out of that image, that holiness, and become a slave to it. That is why religion that is too much on the surface is seldom deep. People who have a reputation for holiness and who appeal too easily to discernment and the "will of God" as a reason for their actions can be escaping the relationship with God found in everyday life and in human situations. They can be bogus...
  • The Unexpected Parable

    by David Clifford
    In his book, The Power of Parable, John Dominic Crossan points out that Jesus uses both common and traditional formatting for his parables. This particular parable is a perfect example of “Olrik’s “law of contrast,” the tendency toward polarization, especially of “good” versus “bad,” “ins” versus “outs,” “haves” versus “have-nots,” and those who fail versus those who succeed.” For Crossan, Jesus uses common and traditional – “expected” – formatting, but “dramatic content” and “unexpected contrast”...
  • Practice What You Preach

    by Neil Epler
    Some time ago, I saw a Peanuts comic strip that had Snoopy on top of his doghouse with a flock of baby birds. The time had come for the baby birds to learn how to fly, and Snoopy was their teacher. Snoopy flapped his ears and walked to the end of the roof of the doghouse. He leaped into the air and continued to flap his ears. Unfortunately he landed right on his head. He got back up onto the roof and shared this lesson: “Do as I say to do and not what I do.”...
  • Stepping Forward in Faith

    by Beth Johnston
    When I was about ten, the CBC aired “The National Dream,” a mini-series, based on a book by Pierre Berton, about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway - a ribbon of steel that was to stretch from “sea to sea”. The strip through the Saskatchewan prairie would have been a breeze, but the line through the Alberta and BC mountains much more difficult and costly in terms of money and lives. Driving the vision of this unifying link was the Prime Minister, John A Macdonald. The last spike was driven by CPR director Donald Smith at Craigellachie, British Columbia on November 7, 1885. Morris tells me that he was there (at a much later date of course!) The building of this railway is part of our “national story” - even if there are parts, such as our abysmal treatment of Chinese labourers, we would like to forget!...
  • The Dangers of Becoming a "Professional" Catholic

    by Terrance Klein
    And then there is Mrs. Tierney, a minor but rather sharp-tongued character in Alice McDermott’s newest novel, which unfolds around the work of religious nursing sisters in the past century, The Ninth Hour. The nuns did more good in the world than any lazy parish priest, she liked to say, especially in arguments with her husband, especially after he learned that she had squandered the week’s household funds on euchre and bridge at some convent, or had given what he called “more than their fair share” to some plucky little sister bound for pagan lands. The priests were pampered momma’s boys compared with these holy women, Liz Tierney would argue. “Princes of the Church, my eyes,” she would say—if only to get his goat—“Spoiled children they are. It’s the nuns who keep things running.”..
  • They Tie Up Heavy Burdens

    Art and Faith by Lynn Miller
    Architecturally, the figure who bears weight is called a caryatid (if a female figure) or a telamon (if a male figure). These figures are also called atlas, atlantes or atlantids (referring to the mythological figure of Atlas who carries the weight of the sky on his shoulders). Visually these figures bear the weight of whatever architectural element is above them. The most famous caryatids are those on the Erectheum on Athens' acropolis...
  • Walking the Talk

    by Scott Moore
    Aung San Suu Kyi spent approximately 15 years under house arrest by the military-led government between the years 1989 and 2010. She was influenced by people like Mahatma Gandhi and has spoken up a lot over the years on democracy, justice, peace, and fear. She has been the subject of a number of films and has been referred to in songs like U2’s tribute to her, “Walk On”. In 2015, her political party won a landslide election and she was eventually made the first State Counselor, a position like prime minister, which was a position created specially for her. She is prohibited from being president because her deceased husband and her children were/are foreign nationals. She is considered by many at home and abroad to be a hero. Unfortunately, her words and her silence in recent weeks do not resonate with what she has taught all the years she was in captivity, speaking and teaching about freedom and democracy...
  • Gratitude, the Basic Virtue (A)(2017)

    by Ron Rolheiser, OMI
    As a young seminarian, I once spent a week in a hospital, on a public ward, with a knee injury. One night a patient was brought on to our ward from the emergency room. His pain was so severe that his groans kept us awake. The doctors had just worked on him and it was then left to a single nurse to attend to him. Several times that night, she entered the room to administer to him—changing bandages, giving medication, and so on. Each time, as she walked away from his bed he would, despite his extreme pain, thank her. Finally, after this had happened a number of times, she said to him: “Sir, you don’t need to thank me. This is my job!” “Ma’am!” he replied, “it’s nobody’s job to take care of me! Nobody owes me that. I want to thank you!
  • Words for a Time Such as This

    by Karoline Lewis
    As those of us in the United States approach the one-year anniversary of our presidential election, Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 and now again in Matthew 23 are words to embolden resistance and persistence. As anti-Beatitude living becomes more acceptable, more normative, more regularized, these are words that call us out of our complacency and conformity. As we continue to experience the effects of national and global trauma, of natural and human made disasters, these are words to believe in, to count on, to trust. As we feel the burden of compassion fatigue, of empathetic exhaustion, as a result of the many perils of the people in our parishes, in our communities, in our nation, and in our world, these words bring peace.

Illustrated Resources from 2008 to 2016

  • Proper 26A (2014)

    by Delmer Chilton
    "Tom Wright tells a funny story about a trip to the 'camping store' to buy all the right equipment for a two week hiking and camping trip. The salesman was an expert on everything Wright needed; tents, maps, socks, shoes, waterproof clothing, cooking utensils, water purifier, sleeping bag, and finally, the backpack. Wright paid for everything, put it all in the pack, then struggled to get the pack on his back...."
  • Proper 26A (2011)

    by Delmer Chilton
    ("Those of us of a certain age can still sing along to the Mac Davis' tongue-in-cheek country song 'O Lord it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect in every way.' It was one of those songs that gets in your head and won't go away...") (scroll down for this sermon)
  • Doing Good and Doing Well

    by Rob Elder
    A story is told about Dwight Eisenhower’s mother, who was the very essence of selfless Christian humility. It is said that during the second world war, while riding on a train, she found herself next to a very talkative passenger. Having no idea who Mrs. Eisenhower was, her seat mate took advantage of the long ride to talk endlessly about her son to one who was the mother of the Supreme Allied Commander, telling her how proud she was that he had been made a corporal. Finally, the realization came upon her that she had been dominating the conversation, and she said to Mrs. Eisenhower, “Tell me about your son.” Her entire reply was, “My son is in the army too."...
  • Empty Words and the Power of God

    by Anita Fast
    One afternoon, I was walking through the old city of Hebron where our Christian Peacemaker Team apartment was located. Hebron's Old City remains fully occupied by the Israeli military. CPT regularly did patrols of the area because incidents of violence between Israeli soldiers or settlers and Palestinian civilians are common. As I was walking through the market with some other teammates, a young Palestinian boy came up and motioned for us to come with him. We followed him to a corner of the market where a group of six or seven Israeli soldiers in flack jackets, helmets, and machine guns strapped around their shoulders, were holding a group of ten Palestinian teenagers spread eagle up against the wall...
  • Preaching Helps (Proper 26A)(2008)

    by Scott Hoezee
    "Although I am quite certain I won't be doing so anytime soon, if I ever felt inclined to write a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, papal etiquette would suggest that I close and sign my letter as follows: 'Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness and imploring the favor of your apostolic benediction..."
  • God Revealing Life

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • Proper 26A (2011)

    by Kate Huey
    (includes several quotes)
  • I'm Jesus Christ and I Approved This Message

    by David Leininger
    ("The church is not in the morals business. The world is in the morals business, quite rightfully; and it has done a fine job of it, all things considered. The history of the world's moral codes is a monument to the labors of many philosophers, and it is a monument of striking unity and beauty...")
  • Easy as 1-2-3

    by Philip McLarty
    ("Years ago, we raised money for the PTA by selling magazine subscriptions. As incentive, prizes were awarded to those who sold the most. I was in the seventh grade, and one of the top prizes was an X-ACTO knife set. I wanted that X-ACTO knife set worse than anything in the world. So, everyday after school I'd canvass the neighborhoods walking up and down the streets knocking on doors selling magazine subscriptions...")
  • How Can You Tell?

    by Rick Miles
    A man was returning from a business trip and was met at the airport gate by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were standing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. Just then, an exceptionally attractive flight attendant walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the attendant, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones." "How come you know her name?" his wife asked suspiciously. Not missing a beat the man replied smoothly, "You see, my dear, her name was posted at the front of the cabin, just under the names of the pilot and co pilot. I was merely being observant!" "Okay, mister," replied the wife, "now give me the names of the pilot and co pilot."..
  • The Humility That Leads to Sainthood

    by John Pavelko
    Gayle Williams was a British South African who decided to respond to God's call and go to Afghanistan to serve. Her work focused on rehabilitation. She sought to raise awareness of the needs of the people with disabilities within the community. She tried to integrate children with disabilities into local schools. Gayle also provided rehabilitative training. She had been peacefully living in Afghanistan for over two years, but a radical Islamic group decided that she was proselytizing and they marked her for death. On October 20, two men rode up to her on a motorcycle and fired seven shots. Gayle Williams died a martyrs death serving her Lord and the people she loved...
  • Monster Rehab

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("For the last few weeks we've all been subjected to reruns of every scary movie ever made: zombies, vampires, guys in hockey masks, spooks with really long fingernails. Monsters in all shapes and forms are the flavor of the month of October. It's hardly surprising that, as usual, popular culture has gotten the point of 'All Hallows Eve' all wrong and totally forgets that the ultimate point is to celebrate 'All Saints Day'....")
  • Would You Be a Saint?

    Sermon Starter by Leonard Sweet
    ("On Halloween we 'dress up' in costumes and put on masks to 'hide out', to conceal who we really are. Originally the 'disguises' worn on 'All Hallows Eve' were supposed to fool the demons....")
  • The Last Shall Be First

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Most everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell was the inventor of the telephone. In 1877 at Lyceum Hall in Salem, Massachusetts, he gave a lecture at the Essex Institute. During the lecture Bell demonstrated his device as those gathered heard the voice of Thomas Watson who was 18 miles away in Boston. The Boston Globe later reported that Bell's invention was 'an unqualified success'...")

Illustrated Resources from the Archives

  • Preaching What We Practice

    by Robert Allred
    ("A rich man promised a preacher $50,000., in advance cash, for the Building Fund, if he would refer to his deceased brother as “a Saint” during the funeral...")
  • An Illustration (Matthew 23)

    from Biblical Studies
    ("What leadership isn't...")
  • Ordinary 31A (2005)

    by Steve Cooley
    "Whenever you think of the word bribe it suggests a shoddy and despicable deed. It once had a very different meaning. In Old French it meant 'a piece of bread, or bread scraps' and a briber was one who begged bread,... which brings me to my story..."
  • Tending Inside and Out

    by Tom Cox
    ("Christianity is meant to be much more than skindeep. On a day that's associated with wearing masks, with celtic mischief, confusion and mayhem at Hallowe'en, it's good to remember that. Christianity calls on us to take off the mask of pretence, of superficiality, to live authentic lives...")
  • Doing Good and Doing Well

    by Rob Elder
    ("A story is told about Dwight Eisenhower's mother, who was the very essence of selfless Christian humility. It is said that during the second world war, while riding on a train, she found herself next to a very talkative passenger...")
  • The Virtue of Humility

    by James Farfaglia
    ("A famous football coach was on vacation with his family in Maine. When they walked into a movie theater and sat down, the handful of people that were present in the theatre applauded. He thought to himself, "I can't believe it. People recognize me all the way up here."...")
  • Empty Words and the Power of God

    by Anita Fast
    One afternoon, I was walking through the old city of Hebron where our Christian Peacemaker Team apartment was located. Hebron's Old City remains fully occupied by the Israeli military. CPT regularly did patrols of the area because incidents of violence between Israeli soldiers or settlers and Palestinian civilians are common. As I was walking through the market with some other teammates, a young Palestinian boy came up and motioned for us to come with him. We followed him to a corner of the market where a group of six or seven Israeli soldiers in flack jackets, helmets, and machine guns strapped around their shoulders, were holding a group of ten Palestinian teenagers spread eagle up against the wall...
  • Diamonds Falling From Your Lips

    by Arthur Ferry, Jr.
    ("According to an old legend, there once lived a widow who had two daughters. The older daughter was so proud and disagreeable that no one liked to be around her. The younger daughter was just the opposite. She was cheerful and helpful and everyone liked her. One day the younger, pleasant daughter was at a fountain drawing water, when an old woman asked her for a drink...")
  • Masqueraders Anonymous

    by Deborah Fortel
    ("There is a story about a Special Olympics race. The teen-aged participants excitedly placed themselves along the starting line. Each was proudly outfitted in running shoes and shorts with a number pinned to their shirt...")
  • Ordinary 31A (2005)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a certain monsignor who had founded a new parish and built the school, the convent, the rectory, the church, and the parish hall with some help, be it noted, from the money of the lay people...")
  • Ordinary 31A (2002)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there were a group of couples who were very active in the parish. They worked on every project that came up because as they said the priest needed their help...")
  • Ordinary 31A (1996)

    by Andrew Greeley
    ("Once upon a time there was a young couple who brought their first baby to their parish to have the small one baptized. The priest was warm and genial, welcomed them into the parish, congratulated them on their little girl, signed them up for the parish...")
  • Servants and Leaders

    by Charles Hoffacker
    ("Robert Greenleaf, who directed management research for AT&T, coined the modern name for workers called "servant leaders". He wrote and spoke often of 'the servant as leader'. Greenleaf recognized an emerging moral principle that has become increasingly obvious in the years since his death in 1990. He saw that the only authority deserving allegiance is the one where the servant status of the leader is apparent..." and illustration on Rosa Parks)
  • Burdens

    by Don Hoffman
    ("Once upon a time a farmer and his son and their mule set out to town. The farmer rode the mule, the son walked alongside. Until they met a person who scolded the farmer furiously for riding and making his son walk...")
  • Anatomy of a Spiritual Disaster V: Abusive Religion Revealed

    by John Jewell
    ("Some years ago, a woman who had just begun to attend our church asked if I would visit her daughter. The 23 year old daughter had just returned home after three years in a cult. She was under the care of a psychiatrist and on anti-anxiety drugs...")
  • Church Humor

    by John Jewell
  • Lifelong Learning

    by Edgar Krentz
    ("Burnout is one of those words that catch the clerical imagination. Many in the ministry, and in all professions that serve human need, live with the reality of burnout. How do they deal with it? One false way is to assume a burden of guilt...")
  • A Call to Faithful Living

    by Kirk Kubicek
    ("In her book Holy The Firm, Annie Dillard writes how nothing can be more convincing of God's unending mercy than the continued existence of the church. 'The higher Christian churches -- where, if anywhere, I belong -- come at God with an unwarranted air of professionalism...")
  • Charades and Reality

    by Roy T. Lloyd
    ("It seems that because of his great devotion and faithfulness to his king, a shepherd was promoted to the position of prime minister. The other ministers were angry that someone of such lowly origin should be so highly honored, and they tried to find some way to bring him into disfavor...")
  • A Humble Reformation

    by John Manzo
    ("One day a young girl watched her mother prepare a ham for baking. At one point, the daughter asked, 'Mom, why did you cut off both ends of the ham?' 'Well, because my mother always did,' said the mother...")
  • Hypocricy of the Pharisees

    by Edward Markquart
    ("I remember years ago, in the 1980s, when Dustin Hoffman played the role of Tootsie in the movie TOOTSIE. He was so good. He played so many different parts, wearing different costumes. When Dustin Hoffman dressed up like a woman and acted like a woman, you would swear he was a woman. Hoffman was and still is a great actor...")
  • Let's Get Real!

    by Ray Osborne
    ("In a Peanuts cartoon strip, Little Lucy, who is known to be ever-ready with unsolicited advice, is playing right-field in a baseball game. Charlie Brown is pitching. 'Let's win one for a change Charlie Brown,' Lucy cries out...")
  • Booker T. Washington

    from Our Daily Bread
  • Ask a Good Question

    by Paul Rooney
    ("There is a Jewish man by the name of Isidor Rabi, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics in 1944, and one of the developers of the atomic bomb. He was once asked how he became a scientist. Rabi replied that every day after school his mother would talk to him about his school day...")
  • Stewardship Through Service

    by Billy Strayhorn
    ("Osceola McCarty was a washer woman. She washed other peoples' clothes all of her life. And every week, she put a little aside in a savings account. Her banker told that was a wise thing to do. So, she did. After awhile, she had quite a bit of money and her banker suggested she invest it. So, she did. In the summer of 1995 she did something unheard of, she donated $150,000, most of her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi to help students get an education and have a better life than she did...")
  • Earnest About Being Important

    by Alex Thomas
    In Alan Paton's book Instrument of Thy Peace, he tells of a rabbi, a cantor and a synagogue cleaner who are preparing for the Day of Atonement. The rabbi beat his breast, and said, 'I am nothing. I am nothing'. The cantor beat his breast, and said, 'I am nothing. I am nothing'...
  • Packaging and Selling Ourselves

    by Alex Thomas
    (includes several quotes and illustrations)
  • The Last Shall Be First

    by Keith Wagner
    ("Recently the World Series for major league baseball was played and the Anaheim Angels were the winners. It’s only the second time in history that a wild card team, a team that did not win their division, has won the series. Not only did they win, they are a team with one of the smaller payrolls in baseball...")
  • When Nobodies Are Somebodies

    by Keith Wagner
    ("I received a story in my e-mail this past week which I believe describes the true spirit of a person filled with humility. His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college..." and other illustrations)
  • Ordinary 31A (2005)

    by Ed Whelan
    "I was reading recently about President George H. W. Bush, Big George. He was campaigning for reelection in 1992 and was visiting a senior citizen center. He went up to one old fellow and said 'Do you know who I am” and the man replied “No sir, but if you ask that nurse over there I’m sure she could tell you.'..."
  • Pharisees

    from Wikipedia
  • Scribe

    from Wikipedia
  • Movies/Scenes Representing Judgment

    Compiled by Jenee Woodard

Other Resources from 2017 to 2019

Other Resources from 2008 to 2013

Other Resources from 2005 to 2007

Other Resources from the Archives

Children's Resources and Dramas

The Classics

Recursos en Español

Currently Unavailable