October 30 – Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time : Zacchaeus’Transformation

October 26th, 2016

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First Reading  Wisdom 11:22—12:2
God is merciful because all things were created by God.


Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 145:1-2,8-9,10-11,13,14
Sing praise to God, who is faithful.


Second Reading  2 Thessalonians 1:11—2:2
Paul tells the Thessalonians to remain faithful to Christ until Christ comesagain.


Gospel Reading
Luke 19:1-10 


In the figure ofZacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a chieftax collector, a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud byprofession and so a“sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. ButZacchaeus’ faith & humility bring salvation to his house. He expresses hisfaith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb atree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature reactto Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy. Beneath the loving gaze of Christ, the heart ofZacchaeus warms to love of neighbour. From a feeling of isolation, which hadled him to enrich himself without caring about what others had to suffer, hemoves to an attitude of sharing. In another passage of the Gospel Jesus statesthat it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven(cf. Matthew 19:23). In the case of Zacchaeus we see that precisely what seemsimpossible actually happens: "He," St. Jerome comments, "gaveaway his wealth and immediately replaced it with the wealth of the Kingdom ofHeaven" (Homily on Psalm 83:3). And Maximus of Turin adds: "Riches,for the foolish, feed dishonesty, but for the wise they are a help to virtue;for the latter they offer a chance of salvation, for the former they procure astumbling block and perdition" (Sermon 95). And it is only at this pointthat the love of God achieves its purpose, and salvation is accomplished:'Today salvation has come to this house' (v 9)."

October 23 -Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time : The Prayer of the Humble Man

October 21st, 2016

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First Reading  Sirach 35:12-14,16-18
God hears the prayer of the poor.


Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 34:2-3,17-18,19, 23
The Lord hears and answers the cry of the poor.


Second Reading  2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18
Paul perseveres in faith, confident that God will rescue him.


Gospel Reading
Luke 18:9-14


 

Jesus draws a bluntpicture in today’s Gospel. The Pharisee’s prayer is almost a parody of thethanksgiving psalms (see for example Psalms 30,118). Instead of praising Godfor His mighty works, the Pharisee congratulates himself for his own deeds,which he presents to God in some detail. The tax collector stands at adistance, too ashamed even to raise his eyes to God (see Ezra 9:6). He prayswith a humble and contrite heart (see Psalm 51:19). He knows that before God noone is righteous, no one has cause to boast (see Roman 3:10; 4:2). We seein the Liturgy today one of Scripture’s abiding themes - that God “knows nofavorites,” as today’s First Reading tells us (see 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts10:34-35; Romans 2:11). God cannot be bribed (see Deuteronomy 10:17). Wecannot curry favor with Him or impress Him - even with our good deeds or ourfaithful observance of religious duties such as tithing and fasting. If we tryto exalt ourselves before the Lord, as the Pharisee does, we will be broughtlow (see Luke 1:52). This should be a warning to us - not to take pride in ourpiety, not to slip into the self-righteousness of thinking that we’re betterthan others, that we’re “not like the rest of sinful humanity.” If weclothe ourselves with humility (see 1 Peter 5:5-6) - recognize that all of usare sinners in need of His mercy - we will be exalted (see Proverbs29:33). The prayer of the lowly, the humble, pierces the clouds. Paultestifies to this in today’s Epistle, as He thanks the Lord for giving himstrength during his imprisonment. Paul tells us what the Psalmist singstoday - that the Lord redeems the lives of His humble servants. We toomust serve Him willingly. And He will hear us in our distress, deliver us fromevil, and bring us safely to His heavenly kingdom.

October 16 - Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Persistent Widow

October 10th, 2016

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First Reading  Exodus 17:8-13
Joshua and the Israelites defeat Amalek with the help of God and his servant,Moses.


Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 121:1-2,3-4,5-6,7-8
The Lord is the Guardian of Israel.


Second Reading  2 Timothy 3:14—4:2
Paul exhorts Timothy to continue to preach the word Timothy received from histeachers.


Gospel Reading
Luke 18:1-8


The Lord is our guardian, beside us at our righthand, interceding for us in all our spiritual battles. In today’s Psalmwe’re told to lift our eyes to the mountains,  that our help will comefrom Mount Zion and the Temple - the dwelling of the Lord who made heaven andearth. Joshua and the Israelites, in today’s First Reading, are also told tolook to the hilltops. They are to find their help there - through theintercession of Moses - as they defend themselves against their mortal foes,the Amalekites. Notice the image: Aaron and Hur standing on each side of Moses,holding his weary arms so that he can raise the staff of God above his head.Moses is being shown here as a figure of Jesus, who also climbed a hilltop, andon Mount Calvary stretched out His hands between heaven and earth to intercedefor us against the final enemy - sin and death (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). Bythe staff of God, Moses bested Israel’s enemies (see Exodus 7:8-12;8:1-2),parted the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:16) and brought water from the Rock (seeExodus 17:6). The Cross of Jesus is the new staff of God, bringing about a newliberation from sin, bringing forth living waters from the body of Christ, thenew Temple of God (see John 2:19-21; 7:37-39; 19:34; 1 Corinthians 10:4). Likethe Israelites and the widow in today’s Gospel, we face opposition andinjustice - at times from godless and pitiless adversaries. We, too, must liftour eyes to the mountains - to Calvary and the God who will guard us from allevil. We must pray always (persevere in prayer) and not be wearied by ourtrials, Jesus tells us today. As Paul exhorts in today’s Epistle, we need toremain faithful, to turn to the inspired Scriptures - given by God to train usin righteousness. We must persist, so that when the Son of Man comes again inkingly power, He will indeed find faith on earth.

October 9 – Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time : Give thanks with a grateful heart

October 4th, 2016

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First Reading  2 Kings 5:14-17
Naaman is cleansed of his leprosy and chooses to serve the God of Israel.


Responsorial Psalm  Psalm 98:1,2-3,3-4
Rejoice! The salvation of God is made known to all.


Second Reading  2 Timothy 2:8-13
Those who remain faithful to Christ will share Christ's glory.


Gospel Reading
Luke 17:11-19


Today's readings are about remembering andthanksgiving, healing and salvation. In the Old Testament reading, (SecondKings 5:14-17) Naaman the Syrian remembers to thank Elisha for his cure, andone of the 10 lepers cured by Jesus remembered to turn up and thank his healer.It is the foreigner who returns, who praises God and who expresses gratitude toJesus. When Jesus says: “Your faith has made you well," the blessingcertainly refers to some benefit other than that which all, including the othernine, had received earlier. The verb “made well” is the same very oftentranslated “to be saved.” The stories of the lepers teach us some powerfullessons about remembrance, gratitude, healing and salvation. Grateful heartsare the hallmark of authentic Christians. Those who possess the virtue ofgratitude are truly rich. They not only know how richly they have been blessed,but they continuously remember that all good things come from God. There is anold saying: Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when youdon’t get what you deserve. Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve. I like you get asked a dozen times a day, “Howare you doing?” I have trained myself to often answer, “More blessed than Ideserve.” Yes, All is gift. Thankful people store up in their grateful memoryall the good experiences of the past, just as the French proverbstates:“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.”

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