Christmas – Cycle A
Is 62:1-5, Psalm 89: 4-5, 16-17, 27, 29, Acts 13:16-17, 22-25, Mt 1:18-25

When I was a kid my parent’s told me that St. Nicholas was very clever, he would not come to my house until I was fast asleep, and then he would sneak in and leave presents for us under the tree. I was always so excited on Christmas Eve that I had a hard time falling asleep.

I thought about that we might be able to help the kids get ready for bed tonight by reading a bedtime story.

[[READ The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola]]

There was a young orphan named Giovanni. He begged for food and slept in the doorways. Giovanni was happy because he could do something wonderful. He could juggle!


In the morning Giovanni would juggle oranges in front of Signor Baptista’s vegetable stand. People would watch Giovanni and buy vegetables. Signora Baptista would always feed Giovanni a bowl of soup.


One day a troupe of traveling players came to town with a play. Giovanni saw their pretty clothes, dancing and singing and said – “That is the life for me!” So he begged the Maestro “Please let me come with you. I will be a hard worker and … I can juggle!” The Maestro agreed and Giovanni became a traveling player.


Whenever he juggled Giovanni would dress up as a clown. First he would juggle rings, then clubs and then the Moon, the Earth and the Sun. When he got to the Earth and the Sun and the Moon he would juggle them higher and faster and the crowd would laugh and cheer.


Giovanni became famous, He traveled all over Italy playing to people. Once he juggled for a Count, then a Duchess, then a Prince. His act was always the same.


First he would juggle the rings.


Then he would juggle the clubs.


Then he would juggle the Earth and the Moon and the Sun in the heavens! Each time the people would clap and cheer and laugh. They really enjoyed Giovanni’s show.


One day when Giovanni was between two towns he was sitting in the shade of a tree eating a lunch of bread and cheese when Two Little Brothers came down the road. “Will you share your food with us good Clown for the love of God and the blessings of our Brother Francis?” “Of course good fellows, there is more than enough” said Giovanni.

As they ate, one of the two little brothers named St. Anthony told Giovanni how they went from town to town begging their food and spreading the joy of God. “Our founder, Brother Francis, says that everything sings of the glory of God. Why even your juggling.” “I only juggle to make people laugh and applaud” said Giovanni. “That is the same thing”, said St. Anthony, “If you give happiness to people, you give glory to God as well.” “Thank you” said Giovanni and after lunch they went on their way.


Giovanni became richer and richer and more famous. Wherever he went the crowds would be all smiles and laugh and clap – especially when he juggled the Sun and the Earth and the Moon.


Then one day while he was juggling the Sun, the Earth and the Moon he dropped the Sun in the Heavens. All of his balls came crashing down. The people laughed at him – but not from joy. They did a terrible thing and threw vegetables at him and so Giovanni had to run for his life.


Giovanni gave up juggling. He took off his clown face gave up juggling forever. He lost what little money he had saved and soon he was once again begging for food and sleeping in doorways. It is time to go home he thought.


It was a cold winters night when he got back home. The wind blew and the rain was icy and it was dark. The only place that was open was the Church of the little brothers, so Giovanni crept inside the dark Church and fell asleep cold and tired.


Gloria in excelcis Deo! Giovanni woke up to the Church filled with people singing the Gloria. He could scarcely believe his eyes! So much beauty, a long procession of Brothers and Sisters, Priests and Townspeople all bringing their gifts in front of a Statue of Mary and Jesus. He asked one of the townspeople what was going on. “It is the birthday of Jesus, it is Christmas! We are all bringing him our gifts to celebrate His birth”.

When Mass was over, everyone went home. The Church was dark again except for the candles around Mary and Jesus.


Giovanni went closer. Mary and Jesus seemed so serious, so stern. “I am but a poor beggar thought Giovanni, but I know what I can give as a gift.”


He opened up his juggling bag, put on his clown makeup and began to juggle for Mary and Jesus.


The porter came in and saw Giovanni and ran to get the Father. Giovanni was now juggling the Sun and the Earth and the Moon. They went around and around faster and more beautifully before. His heart was pounding, “For you sweet Jesus, for you!” cried Giovanni.


Suddenly his heart stopped, and he fell dead on the floor.

[[PAUSE]], [[PAGE]]

When the Father came in, he found Giovanni on the floor and he said – “This poor old clown is dead – may he rest in peace.” Then looking up at the statue of Mary and Jesus he noticed that Jesus was smiling, and in his hand he held the Sun. The End.


The Sun was Giovanni’s gift to Jesus for Christmas – he gave him part of himself, he showed Jesus his love by juggling for him. That is why Jesus had a smile on his face at the end of the story.

The gospels give us three different ideas for gifts for Jesus this Christmas.

The gift of love.
The gift that St. Joseph gave to Jesus was the gift of his love. Joseph responded to the Angel and took Mary to be his wife. His gift of love lasted his entire life, where he provided for, protected and cared for Mary and Jesus.

The gift of obedience.
When the Archangel Gabriel came to Mary to ask if she would be the Mother of Jesus she responded with her yes. She said “Let it be done to me according to your word!” Mary’s gift to Jesus was to listen to his word and act on it in her heart.

The gift of help.
After Mary became pregnant with Jesus, she traveled to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is the mother of John the Baptist to help her in her own pregnancy. Mary’s response to having Jesus grow within her was to share him with Elizabeth and John the Baptist.

What is your Gift to God this Christmas?
On Christmas we celebrate God’s generosity by giving one another presents. This Christmas, what gift are you going to bring to Christ? Love? Obedience? Help? When we give gifts of ourselves we share God’s love and proclaim Glory to God in the highest!

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