Wednesday, October 26, 2016

October 30, 2016 - Jesus visits Zacchaeus' Home

The Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time  - Year C

Reading I:
Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Reading II: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Gospel:  Luke 19: 1-10

In our first reading today, we read words of mercy again: “You  are all powerful enough to do anything, but you are merciful to everyone; you overlook our sins and give us time to repent.” (Wisdom 11:23) “O Lord, because it is yours, you love all living things.” (Wisdom 11:26) “Your immortal spirit is in every one of them, and so you gently correct those who sin against you.” (Wisdom 12:1-2)Jesus provides for us the human face of God. His interactions with Zacchaeus reflect the sentiments attributed to God in the Book of Wisdom. He reads the heart of the tax-collector who has climbed a tree to see him. He reaches out to him by saying that he wants to stay at his house. How proud Zacchaeus must have felt to think that this popular man selected his home to visit! Being a man of wealth, he probably provided a delicious meal and was thrilled to have Jesus as his guest.

Of course, there were those who were jealous and complained that Jesus was again eating with sinners. Nonetheless, a deep connection was made between Jesus and Zacchaeus so that he had a conversion of heart. How startled the guests must have been when the tax collector stood up and said to Jesus: “Listen, sir! I will give half my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will pay him back four times as much.”

Jesus must have truly rejoiced over Zacchaeus’ words. His response was, “Salvation has come to this house today, for this man, also, is a descendant of Abraham. The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus gives us examples of how to reach out to the lost. There are so many ways people today are “lost.” First, we must pray that they will have open hearts. Then, it is important to enter into their world and see through their eyes in order to make a connection. This demands sacrifice and perseverance. It also, requires that we allow them to find their own way while being there for support and continuing to love them whatever choices they make.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 23, 2016 - The Publican and the Sinner

The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Reading I:  Sirach 35:12-18
Response: Psalm 34
Reading II: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18
Gospel: Luke 18: 9-14

In today’s Gospel we are reminded of the correct attitude when we pray. Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican to teach us.

As one views that picture above, one can note the attitude of the Pharisee by his posture, as well as his words. He stands looking toward heaven as he reminds God of all his virtues. His prayer is one of boasting rather than of humble truth. He doesn’t recognize his own sinfulness. Also, he sees himself as superior to others.

On the other hand, we have the publican in a posture of humble acknowledgement of his human weaknesses. He pleads, “Have mercy on me, a sinner.” In the first reading from Sirach, we hear: “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.”

Jesus emphasizes the fact that the publican’s prayer will be heard by the Father. The Pharisee’s “so called” prayer was simply a litany of praise to himself.

Often we recognize faults in others, but fail to recognize our own shortcomings. Sometimes, the things that bother us in another are qualities we have ourselves. Let us extend mercy to our brothers and sisters as the Lord lavishes his mercy on us.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 16, 2016 - Persistence in Prayer

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time  -  Year C

Reading 1:  Exodus 17:8-13
Psalm 121: 1-8
Reading II: 2 Timothy 3:14 - 4:2
Gospel: Luke 18: 1-8

A lesson from Exodus about persistence in prayer stands out as Moses kept up his hands raised in prayer while the conflict with the Amalekites was going on. As long as he persisted in prayer, Israel was winning. However, Moses could not continue that pose long without the help of Aaron and Hur who held up his arms when they began to droop. That was necessary until the evening so that the Israelites could win the battle.

That is how the Christian Community functions. Some are working diligently to spread the Gospel while others are supporting their efforts through prayer and sacrifice. In Monasteries and Houses of Prayer, that can be the main ministry. On the other hand, active Religious and other Christians offer their prayer and work for the good of all, especially for those who request their prayers.

Just as Moses appreciated the support of Aaron and Hur, we are grateful for those who help us in our challenging situations. It requires persistence and faith that the Lord is hearing us when there seems to be no solution to our problems. We need to trust that the Lord knows when and how to respond to our requests. We also need the comfort of those who provide kindnesses and support when things are difficult.

Each morning we, as Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for our families, friends, the Pope, world leaders, etc. We also pray especially for the intentions of those who pray through the intercession of St. Katharine Drexel here at the Shrine or elsewhere.

Lord, help us to be steadfast in our prayer no matter how long we must persevere, trusting that you know best how and when to respond.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October 9, 2016 - The Ten Lepers

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

Reading I:
2 Kings 5:14-17
Reading II: Timothy 2: 8-13
Gospel: Luke 17: 11-19

An attitude of gratitude is one of the signs of a happy person. Jesus knows this. In the picture above, one sees Jesus blessing the one leper who returned to give thanks. However, we also see Jesus looking pensively at the other nine who are rejoicing over their cure, but are oblivious of the one who made it possible. Obviously, they are centered on themselves.

In his human nature, Jesus probably felt hurt that only one returned expressed his gratitude. However, he may also have felt sorry that they did not have the attitude of gratitude which would make them happier people.

We all have ups and downs in our lives. However, one of the best ways of pulling oneself out of the doldrums is to list all the things for which we should be grateful. Some people keep gratitude journals. They write 3 things a day for which they are grateful. Then, they try to not repeat.  As time goes on, they begin to notice the smaller blessings, e.g. the beauty of a flower, the breeze on a hot summer’s day, the smile of a friend.

When I was working in campus ministry at Xavier University in New Orleans, many of our students came from poor and difficult circumstances. However, they had a joyous manner. It blew my mind when, during prayer, they thanked the Lord for getting them up in the morning. Not being a morning person myself, I had never even thought of thanking the Lord for getting me up. Sometimes, students can become teachers for their instructors.

One day Sr. Ivan and I visited Church Point in rural Louisiana. I was taken to visit an elderly couple who lived in a small shabby house. However, they were such joyous people as every other word out of their mouths was praising and thanking the Lord. I could see why the Lord has such love for the poor.

Just as any good parent wants his/her children to be happy, so does our Heavenly Father and Jesus want this for us. Let us strive to develop a strong attitude of gratitude even on those days when everything seems to be going wrong.

Lord, you have blessed us in so many ways, we thank you for all that was, that is, and that will be.