Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 31, Luke 19: 1-10
Luke speaks a lot in his Gospel favoring the poor and the lowly. He really doesn’t mean to exclude the rich and powerful people in society. They are good people, too, and today’s Gospel for this Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time shows that salvation is also possible for them.
We have said many times before, tax collectors, of which Zacharias is one, were very rich. He collected the tax for the Roman government and anything he could get over and above the least amount by jockeying the bill, was his. They robbed the public and the public resented them.
I have no idea how old Zacharias was, but I would not imagine he was a young man. He was the chief tax collector and it must have taken some time to rise to this position. So let’s make Zacharias middle aged, maybe in his 40’s or 50’s. Despite his position and age, Zacharias is bound and determined to see Jesus, even if he makes a fool of himself in so doing. Forty or fifty year olds look pretty stupid trying to shimmy up a tree! But he must have realized that his salvation depended on Jesus’ loving mercy, and not on his money or status. So Zacharias climbs the tree to see Jesus.
When Jesus saw this guy up in the tree, it caught his attention and he tells him to come down, for Jesus meant to have supper in his house. And when the two met, Zacharias promised to make restitution for his many extortions. And Jesus assured him that this day salvation had come to his house.
A wise story and one we should keep in mind. We, too, must be aware of the fact that it is not who we are or what we do that matters so much as our attitude toward Jesus. As we have seen so often we do not earn, merit or deserve salvation. Salvation comes when we place Jesus before and above all things and beg for his mercy in our prayers.
Once again, today’s Gospel urges us to keep in mind the idea of surrendering to Jesus, turning our will and lives over to him for his direction.
The Solemnity of All Saints
November 1, Mt. 5: 1-12
“The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The Godly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise thee.
All the saints and elect with one voice acknowledge thee,
O Blessed Trinity, One God.”
A saint is anyone who tries to live their life according to the way of God. The Church has always honored those who die in the Lord. The history of the Church is filled with stories of these people, some remembered throughout the ages, and some forgotten and never to be remembered again. They may be people we know right now and try to imitate. Some have been canonized or recognized by the Church; others have not been recognized but tried to live as God revealed he would like them to live. We honor them all on this day.
This feast that we call All Saints Day began as a feast of All Martyrs early in the Church’s history – the 4th Century. It came to be observed later on May 13 when Pope Boniface (608-615) rebuilt as a Christian church an ancient Roman Temple called the Pantheon or Temple of All Gods. The Church re-buried many martyrs here and dedicated the Church to the Mother of God and All the Holy Martyrs on May 13, 610.
About a hundred years later, Pope Gregory III converted a new chapel in the Basilica of St. Peter to all Saints (not just martyrs) and set the date of the feast on November 1. The vigil of this important feast, All Saint’s Eve, Hallowee’een, was apparently celebrated as early as the feast itself. We still celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and Halloween on October 31 today.
All Souls Day
November 2, John 6: 37-40
I quite honestly do not know if there is a purgatory or not. No one does. Our present Pope, Benedict XVI, wrote: “I would go so far as to say that if there was no purgatory, then we would have to invent it, for who would dare to say of him/herself that he or she was able to stand directly before God”. He goes on to say that purgatory means God can put the pieces back together again that we presumably have broken off by our sins.
This is the feast we celebrate today, a remembrance of friends and loved ones who have passed away. This day follows All Saints Day in order to shift the focus from those in heaven to those in purgatory. This feast reminds us of our obligation to live holy lives; to live the way God has told us to live in the Scriptures.
Let us pause for a time today and remember all of those who in the past have had a significant difference in our lives, who were good people, and ask God to receive them into his Kingdom.
May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Wednesday of the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time
November 3, Luke 14: 25-33
“Whoever does not carry our own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples”.
Jesus, on the night before Calvary in the garden, prayed that God would remove the cross he had been asked to carry. He wasn’t trying to give up; he was showing us the enormity of that cross he was being asked to bear. But then he qualified his prayer to the Father: Not my will, but your will be done. He surrendered his human nature to the Father.
We must do the same thing. We all have crosses to bear and some of them are pretty doggone heavy. It would be great if God would take away the cross and restore us to better health. And he might do that. We never know. But in our prayer for healing, let’s not forget to qualify it: Not my will, Lord, but yours be done.
What cross are you being asked to carry? Have you asked God to remove it? Are you ready to accept his will if he doesn’t? I am trying, Lord, to do this. Are you?
Thursday of the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time
November 4, Luke 15: 1-10
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”.
Thank God for welcoming sinners! All of us would be out in left field if he didn’t. This is why he became man: to redeem us, set us straight with the Father, to forgive our sins.
I hear the confessions of older people frequently. They come to confession out of habit and then when they get face to face with the confessor, they can’t think of anything to say! They stammer and fret while I think, this is great! I tell them the older we get, the less we sin. I kind of think that is true. By the time we are seniors, we have just about tried it all and it didn’t make us happy. So we try it God’s way, and find the happiness we’ve been looking for all along. And there is less sin. So what’s wrong with that! I’ve been looking for some truly good things about the so-called Golden Age and can’t find too many of them. But they are there if we look, and this is certainly one of them.
Friday of the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time
November 5, Luke 16: 1-8
“The master commended the dishonest steward for acting prudently”.
I guess there is prudence and then there is prudence. The truly prudent thing for the steward to have done would have been not to get involved in all of these dishonest shenanigans at all, but to keep things on the up and up with his master’s property. But he was prudent in his straying ways. Prudence is defined as the right way of doing things. And after he blew it with his unethical ways, he did the prudent thing by covering his own read end when the consequences of his actions came and he lost his position.
So the steward was clever to a point. But he would have really been clever to have chosen God’s way in the first place.
Saturday of the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time
November 6, Luke 16: 9-15
I guess we kind of jumped the gun with yesterday’s homily by getting into today’s Gospel. But it is a good reminder for all of us. Don’t get too concerned with the paycheck and how much money you are making or with that boat you’ve always wanted or that new luxury car. These things are nice and ok, but not if they take our attention away from the Lord Jesus.
Once again, let’s try to keep our priorities in the proper order. This is a good note upon which to end another week.