No jokes. So, I'm afraid, dear Lord, that joke of Yours about straining at a gnat (gamla) and swallowing a camel (gamal) will have to go. It always brings the house down when we have that in the Gospel. Also the story about people having planks in their eyes - well, our focus group isn't too keen.
There was an old lady who swallowed a camel.
Today's tip for preachers is to avoid words and phrases that may trigger giggles in sermons. Here's a short list:
1. The bishop. Like it or not, most bishops are figures of fun. There are exceptions, of course: some are not megalomaniac self-publicists or idle time-servers, but devout and holy men who are true pastors of their sheep. However, in many dioceses the mere mention of the bishop will cause eye-rolling, sniggering, and head-shaking. Especially if he was on the television last night.
A devout and holy man.
2. Richard Dawkins. Although a tragic figure, rather than a comedian per se, he is associated with so many funny stories that his comedy value is more than his value as a source of spiritual nourishment. If he does finally convert, then he will have a natural role as a patron saint of comics. Or possibly honey.
3. The Spirit of Vatican II. It's probably safe to mention Vatican II, which was not inherently funny. However, invoke the Spirit (and the same goes for the Spirit of Laudato Si' or the Spirit of Amoris Laetitia), and the giggling will start.
The Spirit of Amoris Dancer.
4. Tina Beattie. I suppose a blood-and-thunder denunciation of the dear lady from the pulpit, although it would be impressive, is too much to ask for. Mentioning her in the context of Catholic teaching will probably count as a joke. No, avoid the subject.
5. Giles Fraser. Like Dawkins, an endless source of mirth, so much so that the mere mention of his name brings a smile to the face. I suppose that in private he may be a tortured soul who only wants to be loved, but even God must be congratulating Himself on one of his funniest creations.
6. Women bishops, women priests, deaconesses. Stop sniggering at the back.
I said, "Stop sniggering."
7. Paul Inwood. It's difficult to see how the subject might come up in a sermon, unless one of the Biblical readings was about a hideous and ghastly noise (there's probably a suitable text in the book of Revelation), but your audience will now be thinking "Alleluia, Ch-Ch" or "Prepare the way of the Lord, Moo-oo-oo, Moo-oo-oo".
8. Jesuits. Nowadays these are inherently funny, inasmuch as there are more jokes about Jesuits than spiritually nourishing stories. Forget it.
Well, you get the idea. Keep off topics that may trigger laughter. Model yourself on a BBC alternative comic - Jeremy Hardy, say, or Marcus Brigstocke. If they can talk for 20 minutes without making anyone laugh, then you should be able to as well.
Maintain the dignity of the cloth at all times!