Daily Archives: October 31, 2010

“Jesus, You’re Barking Up The Wrong Tree!” – Luke 19:1-10†


Happy Halloween

Don’t forget tomorrow is “All Saints Day,” and Tuesday is “All Souls Day.”  Even though attendance at Mass is not obligated this year, go anyway!  And, Please, Please, Please, be safe on your “haunting” tonight!

 

 

 

Pope Benedict XVI Prayer Intentions for November, 2010:

Drug Addicts and Victims of Every Form of Dependence

General:  That the victims of drugs or of other dependence may, thanks to the support of the Christian community, find in the power of our Saving God strength for a radical life-change.

 

The Continent-wide Mission in Latin America

Missionary: That the Churches of Latin America may move ahead with the continent-wide mission proposed by their bishops, making it part of the universal missionary task of the People of God.

             

 

 

Today is the last official day of the “40 Days for Life Campaign” — and I have great news to share! As of right now, we know of … 541 babies — and their mothers — that God has spared from abortion. That’s at least 3,352 babies since the first coordinated “40 Days for Life” campaign in a mere three years ago. And who knows how many more that we’ll never hear about?

Also, in Columbia, Missouri … the Planned Parenthood facility there hasn’t done abortions since August 9.  Faithful volunteers are continuing the vigil…

… and Planned Parenthood doesn’t like it.

 

 

 

Finally, this Tuesday is the day for “Elections” nationwide.  Regardless of your political leanings it is a right and a solemn duty as a citizen of this great country to vote.  Please, please vote – – and please, please, vote for life.

 

 

Today in Catholic History:
    


†   1517 – Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the Wittenberg church
†   1705 – Birth of Pope Clement XIV (d. 1774)
†   1919 – Magnus Wenninger, American priest, author of Polyhedron models  
†   1992 – Roman Catholic church reinstates Galileo Galilei after 359 years
†   1999 – Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church leaders sign the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, ending a centuries-old doctrinal dispute over the nature of faith and salvation
†   Liturgical Feast Days: St. Arnulf; St. Bega; St. Quentin; St. Urban; St. Wolfgang

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

We were called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus staying at the house of Zacchaeus, a tax-collector.

 

1 He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.  2 Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, 3 was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.  4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way.  5 When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  6 And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  7 When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”  8 But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.”  9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”  (NAB Luke 19:1-10)

 

Tax-collectors were about as unpopular during Jesus’ day as they are now.  These men collaborated with the Roman officials and thus were hated and despised by many of the Jewish people.  The Roman “tax” system allowed the local tax-collectors to charge far more than the actual tax, making these collectors a substantial profit.  They literally earned their wages through corruption and extortion.  In performing this dubious practice of collecting exorbitant taxes, the process created an unsavory perception of the tax-collector as traitors among Jewish citizens of the region.  Most considered the local tax-collector as nothing more than a government sanctioned thief.  Thus, they were considered sinners by their fellow Jews and considered a lost cause by the pious Jewish citizens and religious leaders.   

The story of the tax-collector named “Zacchaeus” is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Though a very rich man, Zacchaeus differs dramatically from the rich man of Luke 18:18-23.  This rich man (in Luke 18) was a “ruler” among his brethren; yet he refused to separate himself from his personal material wealth and possessions when Jesus encouraged him to become a true follower of His.  Zacchaeus, on the other hand, exemplified a different (and more proper) attitude toward wealth; he promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and thus, he becomes the beneficiary of God’s salvation.

What caused Zacchaeus to change in heart and spirit?  Prior to Jesus even coming to his home, Zacchaeus (his name means “clean”) shows himself to be someone in search of salvation.  He is obviously a short man, so he climbs a tree in order to see Jesus.  Zacchaeus “ascends” a tree in order to be saved for his sins; and later, Jesus “ascends” the tree of the Holy Cross to save us from our sins.

Per Luke’s description, we are aware that Zacchaeus was not just an ordinary run of the mill tax-collector; in fact, he was the “chief” tax-collector for the whole area AND a person of considerable wealth.  As a tax-collector, aware of his compromise of faith, yet searching for mercy and reconciliation, he definitely was a man straddling the proverbial fence.  In his search for salvation, he humbled himself by making a quite a spectacle of himself in climbing that sycamore tree.

Despite his reputation and past “professional” actions in life, there may have been someone praying for him – – someone with a caring soul and prayerful heart reaching out to him spiritually with compassion, love, and mercy!  This person saw Zacchaeus without judgment or accusation.  I believe prayers on his behalf opened Zacchaeus’ heart and soul to God’s love and mercy. 

If you re-read the Gospel story, in verse 1 it says, “He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town,” and in verse 5 it says, “… Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  Could this change in Jesus’ “plan” be due to intercessory prayer?

Bystanders in the crowd to see Jesus walking through Jericho that day objected of Jesus’ recognition of Zacchaeus, and then His resting and even eating with this “sinner” AT his house!   Why were they surprised?  Throughout Holy Scripture, Jesus’ routine selection of dinner companions set him apart from other religiously observant Jews of the area.  

In the first century Jewish culture, to dine together was to demonstrate a special relationship of friendship, affiliation, and peace among those at the dinner table.  Observant Jews always separated “clean” from “unclean”.  In following this religious tradition, they did not eat with “outsiders”; for the believing Jews, those being foreigners, sinners, the sick, and others who were believed to be “unclean”.  Yet, Jesus goes outside the societal norms and religious laws by choosing to pay respect to Zacchaeus in purposely visiting with, and eating at, his house.  The presence of Jesus in our lives makes possible what is humanly impossible!  This wealthy man, who most others considered a “sinner”, passes through the “needle’s eye” which Jesus speaks of in Mark 10:25.

In Jesus’ proclaiming that this tax-collector, Zacchaeus, “is a descendant of Abraham”, He literally means “a son of Abraham’s faith.”  Zacchaeus, whose repentance is confirmed in his determination to change his former ways, proves he is a true descendant of Abraham – – the true heir to the promises of God found in Old Testament Scripture.   Luke’s portrayal of Zacchaeus as a “descendant of Abraham” is to recognize the important status of the Jewish people in God’s ultimate plan of salvation: as Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well when He said; “Salvation is of the Jews”.

As mentioned earlier, I believe prayer was the key to Zacchaeus’ remorse and conversion to God.  God works through and in us.  Have you ever had a “sudden impulse” to pray for someone in need?  Has someone’s status or situation in life ever moved you to feel mercy for them?  These “impulses” are the fruits of the Holy Spirit prompting you to act, which is a participation in Jesus’ own prayer of intercession for these persons.  Remember, Jesus, in Hebrews 7:25, is pictured as “always ‘living’ to make intercession” for us.

When there is prayer, there is power!!  Saint Augustine’s mother, Saint Monica, prayed for him on a continual basis for many, many years.  Augustine was a “little dickens” in his youth.  He would be called a “player” and “partier” in today’s vernacular.  The man once even left his mother abandoned and stranded on a boat dock, sailing away from a foreign country – and they didn’t have cell phones and credit cards back then!  Look what happened to Augustine with Monica’s intercessory prayer; he became a Bishop and “Father” of the Church, a founder of a religious order, a great and widely respected theologian and writer, a religious leader, and a Saint.  (He is the Patron Saint of Brewers, Printers, Sore Eyes, and Theologians).

Prayer is POWERFUL; and unrelenting prayer is INVINCIBLE!!!  We have been given a special duty, – a special opportunity – through the Holy Spirit.  This duty is to change people’s lives through, and with, the work of God’s actions and inspirations.

The last line of today’s reading: – “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” – is the essence of Luke’s depiction for the supreme role Jesus plays in God’s plan of salvation.  Jesus recognizes and responds to the faith Zacchaeus displayed in his quest for God’s salvation.  Jesus called him down from the tree a “saved” man.  (And, a short time later, Jesus ascends a tree to “save” us all.)  In the hospitality and admiration Zacchaeus extended to Jesus, and in his conversion of heart, Zacchaeus was exposed by Jesus as a true model of the salvation we all obtain through our desire and faith in Jesus.

Imagine Jesus as an actual physical guest in your home.  How would you and your family prepare if He called on the phone and said He was on His way over to your House?  Zacchaeus did not expect or have time to prepare for hosting Jesus at his house or for providing a meal to share with Him.  Even with no foreknowledge, Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus better than probably anyone else that day could.  The reason – – because of his change of heart, his desire and promise to restore what he stole to all his brethren, and his new found personal love for Jesus.   

You do not need to prepare for Jesus to come to your home. Guess what?  He is ALREADY THERE!!  Through the Holy Spirit, He lives in and through you.  Jesus is present in you when you welcome your guests into your life and home.  Pray that you welcome guests into your home as you would welcome Jesus and welcome Jesus into your home as you would welcome a guest.

 

“The Welcome Prayer”

“Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment
because I know it is for my healing.

I welcome all thoughts, feelings,
emotions, persons,
situations and conclusions.

I let go of my desire for security.

I let go of my desire for approval.

I let go of my desire for control.

I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.

I am open to the love and presence of God
and to the healing action and grace within.

AMEN”

(by Father Thomas Keating)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Wolfgang of Regensburg (c. 924-994)

 

Wolfgang was born in Swabia, Germany, and was educated at a school located at the abbey of Reichenau. There he encountered Henry, a young noble who went on to become Archbishop of Trier. Meanwhile, Wolfgang remained in close contact with the archbishop, teaching in his cathedral school and supporting his efforts to reform the clergy.

At the death of the archbishop, Wolfgang chose to become a Benedictine monk and moved to an abbey in Einsiedeln, now part of Switzerland. Ordained a priest, he was appointed director of the monastery school there. Later he was sent to Hungary as a missionary, though his zeal and good will yielded limited results.

Emperor Otto II appointed him Bishop of Regensburg (near Munich). He immediately initiated reform of the clergy and of religious life, preaching with vigor and effectiveness and always demonstrating special concern for the poor. He wore the habit of a monk and lived an austere life.

The draw to monastic life never left him, including the desire for a life of solitude. At one point he left his diocese so that he could devote himself to prayer, but his responsibilities as bishop called him back.

In 994 he became ill while on a journey; he died in Puppingen near Linz, Austria. His feast day is celebrated widely in much of central Europe. He was canonized in 1052.

Comment:

Wolfgang could be depicted as a man with rolled-up sleeves. He even tried retiring to solitary prayer, but taking his responsibilities seriously led him back into the service of his diocese. Doing what had to be done was his path to holiness—and ours.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

  
    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Prologue to the Rule:

 

 

Chapter 2

Concerning Those Who Do Not Do Penance

But all those men and women who are not doing penance and do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and live in vices and sin and yield to evil concupiscence and to the wicked desires of the flesh, and do not observe what they have promised to the Lord, and are slaves to the world, in their bodies, by carnal desires and the anxieties and cares of this life (cf. Jn 8:41).

These are blind, because they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ; they do not have spiritual wisdom because they do not have the Son of God who is the true wisdom of the Father. Concerning them, it is said, “Their skill was swallowed up” (Ps 107:27) and “cursed are those who turn away from your commands” (Ps 119:21). They see and acknowledge; they know and do bad things and knowingly destroy their own souls.

See, you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, for it is pleasant to the body to commit sin and it is bitter to make it serve God because all vices and sins come out and “proceed from the heart of man” as the Lord says in the gospel (cf. Mt 7:21). And you have nothing in this world and in the next, and you thought you would possess the vanities of this world for a long time.

But you have been deceived, for the day and the hour will come to which you give no thought and which you do not know and of which you are ignorant. The body grows infirm, death approaches, and so it dies a bitter death, and no matter where or when or how man dies, in the guilt of sin, without penance or satisfaction, though he can make satisfaction but does not do it.

The devil snatches the soul from his body with such anguish and tribulation that no one can know it except he who endures it, and all the talents and power and “knowledge and wisdom” (2 Chr 1:17) which they thought they had will be taken away from them (cf. Lk 8:18; Mk 4:25), and they leave their goods to relatives and friends who take and divide them and say afterwards, “Cursed be his soul because he could have given us more; he could have acquired more than he did.” The worms eat up the body and so they have lost body and soul during this short earthly life and will go into the inferno where they will suffer torture without end.

All those into whose hands this letter shall have come we ask in the charity that is God (cf. 1 Jn 4:17) to accept kindly and with divine love the fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ quoted above. And let those who do not know how to read have them read to them.

And may they keep them in their mind and carry them out, in a holy manner to the end, because they are “spirit and life” (Jn 6:64).

And those who will not do this will have to render “an account on the day of judgment” (cf. Mt 12:36) before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 14:10).

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