Juggling, jargon, and the golden ball

Last week, I read Tomie dePaola’s wonderful story, The Clown of God, to my faith formation class. (If you don’t own the book, you can hear and see it read aloud in this video.)

Before I read the book, I prepped the class a bit. It happened to be my daughter’s birthday, as well as the last class before Christmas, so we talked about birthdays and presents. To my relief, they all knew that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

And what present does Jesus want for his birthday? We established that he probably doesn’t want a Hot Wheels Ultimate Gator Car Wash play set, and he probably doesn’t want a Barbie Sparkle Lights Mermaid.  So what does he want?

Most of them were baffled. Then a few hands shot up.

“Love!”  said one kid. I smiled and nodded, and wrote that down on the white board.

“Community,” said another. “Respect, service, compassion.”

He laid the words out flatly, like a card dealer mechanically snapping cards out on a table. He had clearly heard them a thousand times before, and knew how to say the thing the teacher wants you to say: Jesus wants us to love one another. Jesus likes community. Jesus likes service. Some of these kids are barely in contact with anything religious, but others have been in Catholic school since they were tiny, and at the tender age of eight, they are full to the brim with jargon.

So I read them the book. The story goes like this . . .

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly




Image: Detail from illustration from Tomie dePaola’s The Clown of God

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6 thoughts on “Juggling, jargon, and the golden ball”

  1. Wow beautiful story. So simple. Those kids are pretty lucky to have you as their teacher. You’ll leave an indelible mark on those kids.

  2. I gotta get me a copy of that book sometime.
    Thank you, Simcha. I’ve been wrestling with some confusion and frustration lately, and while I’m sure I’m not done with that, this is highly encouraging.

  3. Thanks so much for this post, Simcha. It makes for a beautiful Advent reflection. I plan on reading this aloud Christmas Eve. And am passing this one on to many more people. A blessed, joyous Christmastide to you and your family-

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