Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Get Shorty! (Bible Study Recap, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C)



That guy Zaccheus is a lovable scamp, isn't he? Not only does his name challenge our auto-correct, but he's one of those guys you love to tease but would be happy to have a beer with. I love him.

'Course I'm "size challenged," too.

You ever pick the most remote pew in a church and then — usually right after the Sanctus — some HUGE guy plants himself in front of you? Happens to me all the time. Blessedly, I've got the solution…I either stand on the pew (don't tell the Director of the Chapel) or kneel down on the floor…how come?

Because I want to see!!!

So this guy does essentially the same thing, or even more daring…he hops up a sycamore tree!

We had a lot of fun with this Gospel and this guy, sobered up appropriately through the First Reading, floated through the Response, and went right back to good old Zaccheus.

(Did you know that tradition has it that the little guy became a bishop of Caesarea? I didn't!)

For a good time…

Put yourself in that area of Jericho, maybe standing along the curb with your kids or spouse or buddies, waiting for Jesus to come by. (Remember, at this time He had earned quite a bit of fame…and also? He was, as He is now — an Attractive Man.  Okay, so now you see this crumb of a guy (pretend you're living in Jericho and have had encounters of this Servant Of The Roman Government That's Trying To Rip You Off!) scurrying over to the parade route. You're not going to let him squeeze in! Okay, so he gets the message, and like an adept monkey, beats you all by scampering up a sycamore tree to claim the best seat in the house!

You: "See that, Harry?"
Harry: "Yeah…what a jerk."
Your Spouse: "Now just stop that! He's coming!"
Kid: "I'm hungry!
You: "Shh…hon, where is He?"
Spouse: "Well, if you'd open your eyes, for Pete's sake…"
Harry: "Oh, yeah, there He is! Where's my camera?"
You: (laughing) "Check your pockets…the little runt probably stole it before climbing the tree!"
Harry: "Very funny…wouldn't put it past him though."
Spouse: "Put the child on your shoulders so he can see!!!"

Jesus, smiling, nods at you all…and then looks up, grinning even more:


Okay, now you take it from there. :-)

Anyway? These are really, really, rich Readings. Enjoy them…we did…and we prayed for you. Please remember us in your prayers.

Your humble scribe,

Kelly (and for your continuing (or beginning, for that matter!) meditation on this Sunday's Readings…

“There certainly is much truth in a certain saying of a philosopher, “Every rich man is either wicked or the heir of wickedness.” That is why the Lord and Savior says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone may raise the objection, “How did wealthy Zacchaeus enter the kingdom of heaven?” He gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The Lord and Savior did not say that the rich would not enter the kingdom of heaven but that they will enter with difficulty.”

~ Saint Jerome, Homily on Psalm 83 [84]; in A. Just, Jr., Luke, 290
“Say what you like, but for our part, let us climb the sycamore tree and see Jesus. The reason you cannot see Jesus is that you are ashamed to climb the sycamore tree. Let Zacchaeus grasp the sycamore tree, and let the humble person climb the cross. That is little enough, merely to climb it. We must not be ashamed of the cross of Christ, but we must fix it on our forehead, where the seat of shame is. Above where all our blushes show is the place we must firmly fix that for which we should never blush.”

~ Saint Augustine, Sermon 174.3; trans. in A. Just, Jr., Luke, 290-91)


 Image courtesy of Diane Leagh Matthews, "Rebel to Redeemed"

Points to Ponder, by Doctor Scott Hahn
Lover of Souls

Our Lord is a lover of souls, the Liturgy shows us today. As we sing in today’s Psalm, He is slow to anger and compassionate towards all that He has made.

In His mercy, our First Reading tells us, He overlooks our sins and ignorance, giving us space that we might repent and not perish in our sinfulness (see Wisdom 12:10; 2 Peter 3:9).

In Jesus, He has become the Savior of His children, coming himself to save the lost (see Isaiah 63:8-9; Ezekiel 34:16).

In the figure of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel, we have a portrait of a lost soul. He is a tax collector, by profession a “sinner” excluded from Israel’s religious life. Not only that, he is a “chief tax collector.” Worse still, he is a rich man who has apparently gained his living by fraud.

But Zacchaeus’ faith brings salvation to his house. He expresses his faith in his fervent desire to “see” Jesus, even humbling himself to climb a tree just to watch Him pass by. While those of loftier religious stature react to Jesus with grumbling, Zacchaeus receives Him with joy.

Zacchaeus is not like the other rich men Jesus meets or tells stories about (see Luke 12:16-21; 16:19-31; 18:18-25). He repents, vowing to pay restitution to those he has cheated and to give half of his money to the poor.

By his humility he is exalted, made worthy to welcome the Lord into his house. By his faith, he is justified, made a descendant of Abraham (see Romans 4:16-17).

As He did last week, Jesus is again using a tax collector to show us the faith and humility we need to obtain salvation.

We are also called to seek Jesus daily with repentant hearts. And we should make our own Paul’s prayer in today’s Epistle: that God might make us worthy of His calling, that by our lives we might give glory to the name of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

"This `Foreigner'?" (Bible Study Recap, 28th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C)

Saints Denis and Companions
Saint John Leonardi
Blessed John Henry Newman


"Was there no one to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

Hard to imagine Jesus dissing the Samaritan leper — who, NOT incidentally, was the ONLY one of TEN lepers who came back to THANK Jesus for curing him — as a mere "foreigner," isn't it?

But maybe not. According to Dr. Brant Pitre:

The Greek word there, allogenēs, it only occurs here in the New Testament. And it literally means, “someone of another race.” So allow means “other,” genēs means “race,” so allogenēs is this person of another race—in other words, referring to the Samaritan as being of a different race because they were descended from the Gentiles; they were descended from the Assyrians. So after Jesus says this, He says, “Rise, go your way.” What has made you well? Your epistis, your trust, your faith. So another key theme we’ve seen in this chapter is the healing power, the saving power of faith. The Samaritan believed Jesus when Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priest,” and he was immediately cleansed. He was immediately healed.

Once again, we find the virtue of faith — remember last Sunday's Gospel about that mustard seed? -- a key in Jesus' message.

But "foreigner?"

Yep. What Jesus is doing is smashing down the barriers to salvation! And that's really, really, exciting!!!

"Kelly. Calm down."

I will in a minute. But this is Just. Too. Exciting. For Words!

We're getting a…well…a bit of foreplay here! (Sorry, maybe the wrong word, but strangely apt to me.) Yes! An appetizer if you want to call it that, for the conversion of EVERY SINGLE NATION ON THIS EARTH to…well, to God!

Just check out Psalm 98!!!

Or…my favorite…Psalm 67 (I mean one of my favorites.) Anyway, both sing the praises of God Who has revealed to the NATIONS His saving power!"

Okay, here's the thing:

From Acts 28:28: "You must know that God is offering his salvation to all the world!"

Yes! Even that guy Naaman got it! (After a bit of reluctance.)

Darn those Liturgy Reading People anyway!

The First Reading for this Sunday omits the entire, and, in my opinion, crucial background of Naaman the Syrian. No matter, though…we went through it and so, may I humbly suggest, should you. It's so cool of a story that Jesus mentioned the guy Naaman in one of his talks…along, by the way, with the folks of Nineveh, which is part of a neat reading from the prophet Jonah we're hearing this week. So, you know, maybe you might enjoy reading the whole thing…it'll give you some background to help reinforce the totally cool meaning of this Sunday's First Reading.

Well, I've held you long enough…thanks for reading. I thank God for sending His Spirit down upon us tonight, and pray for the salvation of every person on earth!

And for you…we prayed for you. Please remember us. Thank you!

Your humble scribe,

Kelly <---the best="" br="" come="" is="" to="" yet="">
P.S. The connection between Baptism and the healings in this Sunday's Readings is really cool, isn't it? And what about the connection between "thanksgiving" and the Eucharist???

Bruno of Segni (12th cent. A.D.): “They stood a long way off because no one in their
condition dared come too close. We stand a long way off too while we continue to sin. To be restored to health and cured of the leprosy of sin, we also must cry out: “Jesus, master, take pity on us.” That cry, however, must come not from our lips but from our heart, for the cry of the heart is louder: it pierces the heavens, rising up to the very throne of God.” (Bruno of Segni, On Luke’s Gospel 2.40; trans. E. Barnecut, p. 124)


Points to Ponder, by Doctor Scott Hahn
Returning Thanks

A foreign leper is cleansed and in thanksgiving returns to offer homage to the God of Israel. We hear this same story in both the First Reading and Gospel today.

There were many lepers in Israel in Elisha’s time, but only Naaman the Syrian trusted in God’s Word and was cleansed (see Luke 5:12-14). Today’s Gospel likewise implies that most of the 10 lepers healed by Jesus were Israelites—but only a foreigner, the Samaritan, returned.

In a dramatic way, we’re being shown today how faith has been made the way to salvation, the road by which all nations will join themselves to the Lord, becoming His servants, gathered with the Israelites into one chosen people of God, the Church (see Isaiah 56:3-8).

Today’s Psalm also looks forward to the day when all peoples will see what Naaman sees—that there is no God in all the earth except the God of Israel.

We see this day arriving in today’s Gospel. The Samaritan leper is the only person in the New Testament who personally thanks Jesus. The Greek word used to describe his “giving thanks” is the word we translate as “Eucharist.”

And these lepers today reveal to us the inner dimensions of the Eucharist and sacramental life.

We, too have been healed by our faith in Jesus. As Naaman’s flesh is made again like that of a little child, our souls have been cleansed of sin in the waters of Baptism. We experience this cleansing again and again in the Sacrament of Penance—as we repent our sins, beg and receive mercy from our Master, Jesus.

We return to glorify God in each Mass, to offer ourselves in sacrifice—falling on our knees before our Lord, giving thanks for our salvation.

In this Eucharist, we remember “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David,” Israel’s covenant king. And we pray, as Paul does in today’s Epistle, to persevere in this faith—that we too may live and reign with Him in eternal glory.