Sunday, November 3, 2013
"Today salvation has come to this house"
Sunday's Gospel point out that, before his conversion, Zacchaeus was a short man, someone lacking in height, but that, after his conversion, the tall man gave back what the small man had stolen. Meeting Jesus, it seems, made Zacchaeus grow bigger in stature. Our Discussion Questions for November 3, 2013 - 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time - will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.
Zaccheus' Sincere Contrition
In 1st century Palestine, there was nothing so horrible as the specter of a blood-sucking tax collector. And Zacchaeus is not a man who “lives right and does right.” He is a crooked tax-collector, selfish and held in bad repute. Does God therefore withhold love and grace from him? No. Christ wants to love the man’s goodness into existence.
Zaccheus is filled with remorse for his sins, so much so that he promises publicly, before Jesus and other witnesses, to perform reparations for his crimes. What moves Zaccheus to this sincere contrition for his sins and the vow to change his life? Father Cusick says the tax collector encountered the transforming supernatural power of Divine Love. So effective was the man's transformation that the world has placed the former gangster Zacchaeus in the Hall of Fame. He will remain there until Jesus returns for us. Fr. James Gilhooley asks us to imagine what the Christ might do with us if we allow Him.
Zacchaeus demonstrated his love for Jesus by making an effort to see him. For his part, Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. points out, Jesus demonstrated His love for Zacchaeus in particular, and for all men in general, by inviting himself to stay at Zacchaeus' house. What a marvelous exchange! Love for love!
Yet, as Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains, Zacchaeus could have declined the offer. God is not about forced entry. The door must be opened from the inside. We must make the decision to yield to His mercy and receive the gift. So, Fr. John Foley, S. J. challenges us with these questions: Are you and I bold enough to have the master of the universe over to dinner? Even though our clothes may be torn and dirty? Even small and unworthy as we are?
Surrounded by Complainers
We are told that those who accompanied Jesus began to grumble when he chose to be a guest of this marginal Jew, who seemed to be collaborating with the Romans. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB points out that the complainers were envious. They are too mean-spirited to give thanks to God for the remarkable transformation that has occurred in Zacchaeus.
Fr. Alex McAllister SDS tells us that we face the choice of whether to join Zacchaeus or to join the complainers. Jesus is here in our midst. He wants to come home with us from Church today. Are we looking over our shoulders at what others have gained or do we meet Jesus in the eye and spontaneously repent of our sins and give our excess to the poor?
And now, we are faced with a decision: do we want Jesus in our house? It is going to cost us. We will have to abandon that which has no place in our house, in our lives. But it is an easy decision, says Fr. Joseph Pellegrino. Nothing can surpass the all encompassing joy of having Jesus in our lives.
Stewardship - Another Word for Salvation
The real world is not as neat as we might like it to be. Most of us probably want salvation, but we want it without any work or almost without any belief on our part. The point, according to Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B., is that Zachaeus "redeemed" his unsavory work by the generosity that he brought to it. When we see the homeless, when we see the hungry, when we see the naked, when we see the confused and crazy--and in every similar situation, it is our Lord asking us to help Him. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB says these are the people who are Jesus for us today. They invite us out of our trees to know the Lord.
To sum up, this is what salvation is: The joyful recognition of God´s gift, then with faith, entrusting ourselves - all we are, all we have, to Him. Fr. Phil Bloom says that is the essential process of salvation. It is also the essence of Stewardship. Stewardship is another word for salvation.
So what are you good at? What have you been blessed with? Where, in your life and work, does God’s goodness and beauty most shine through? If you can grow more and more towards that goodness, it will fan into an ever larger flame which eventually will become a fire that cauterizes your faults. When you walk tall, explains Fr. Ron Rolheiser, there will be less and less room for what’s small and petty to manifest itself.
Halloween, All Saints Day & All Souls Day
Thursday, October 31, was Halloween. We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian Celtic festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods. But nothing could be further from the truth. Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P. explains that the origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.
Nowadays, however, it seems like all kinds of Protestant Christians--and not just fundamentalists--boycott Halloween. Elizabeth Esther was one of them. She was a former cradle Protestant who is now Catholic. And just like Fr. Thompson, she makes the case that Halloween is NOT a pagan holiday. And boycotts are really unnecessary!
Taylor Marshall's 'Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween' round things up by showing us how Halloween can indeed be both fun and holy. But what about witches, ghosts and magic? Here's the real deal on what Catholics believe about them. This has to be explained because belief in superstition and in the occult are so ingrained in some cultures. In the Philippines for example, the bishops there told the faithful: don't confuse souls with ghosts. Instead of scaring themselves with the usual ghost stories, Catholics are asked to offer sincere prayers for the souls of their departed relatives.
Here's our interesting Burning Question: Why do we pray for the dead? Let us know what you think. Then allow us to explain to you what the Church says about this matter.
November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. How did these feasts originate? And why do we celebrate them? We explain their origins. From the Vatican, Fr. Lombardi reflects on last Sunday's canonizations and says interest in Saints are growing. It seems Saints are in fashion again. While Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio adds his own reflection on the meaning of Feast or Solemnity of All Saints. " All Saints Day Means Holiness for All" explains the good doctor.
Stained Glass and Abandoned Babies
We close this week with two stories. First we talk about how Catholics have often endured the charge that we are an unbiblical Church. Strange accusation, really, for the Church that collected the Scriptures, determined the canon of Scripture and preached it for 1,500 years before there ever was a Protestant denomination. The fact is we are quite biblical and often in ways that are stunningly powerful. Msgr. Charles Pope explains that the Scriptures are manifest in how we live, how we are organized hierarchically, our sacraments, our liturgy - and even in our buildings.
And finally, here's a rescue story with an unexpected twist of fate. A newborn left to die in a dumpster in northwest Calgary, Canada was saved by a man - who only later found out he was the infant boy’s father! God truly works in mysterious ways.
Another eventful world in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: Why do Catholics pray for the dead?
FEATURED BLOG: Top Ten Ways to Have a Catholic Halloween
PASTORAL HISPANA: Invitemos a Jesus a nuestra casa como Zaqueo
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