A Meditation for the Thirty-first Sunday
Today's gospel story lends itself well as a text for personal prayer. See yourself as one akin to Zacchaeus, as a person who desires to grow closer to Jesus in faith. But you are small in your resources to study and learn. Theology and its many arguments stands before you as a tall challenge, making it difficult to encounter the person of Jesus.
Also, blocking your view are all the positive questioning, the arguments from today’s intellectuals, casting doubt over what tradition has taught. Then there is the outright denial, the agnosticism and atheism of our time. All these stand tall, blocking your view.
But there before you, you have the tree of opportunity that you can climb. It is the tree of the desire to know, the tree of commitment, the tree of perseverance, the tree of prayer which you strive to climb.
Now you are able to see a personal Jesus and hear his VOICE call out to you, inviting himself into your heart, bringing you the gift of the prayer of encounter. Your faith rises above all the obstacles it has faced. Your faith is now personal and unshaken.
Reflection On Today's First Reading
It is important that we have a clear understanding of nature and purpose of prayer. Prayer is not an isolated, personal thing that we like to take up when convenient, not unlike a hobby. Rather, prayer is an essential, component part of the wider Christian spiritual life. Prayer is a school, where we study under the Master's instruction, how to live a full and rich and productive Christian Life.
It is in prayer that:
· we meet Christ through a personal encounter. We forsake all other possible directions for our lives, choosing to make Jesus' way, our way, and the direction our life will take.
· we hear his voice speaking to us, we learn directly and personally from the Master, what our unique calling will be.
· the scriptures are opened to us, and we see the bigger picture, understanding that we are part of the master plan of salvation for all the world.
· we learn that there is a highly intelligent agent opposing God's plans. We learn how evil works, using lies to deceive good people of good intention; twisting them into actual opponents against God's purposes.
· we are healed of our "wounds of sin", and give fresh hearts to engage in the struggle of good over evil.
· we are given glimpses of the glory that waits all God's faithful.
Make no mistake, "when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials." Were we to choose to enter the Lord's service and fail to embrace the practice of prayer, we would quickly become little more than cannon fodder in the battle with the forces of darkness. Yet, this should not cause us to hesitate, for after all, what other choice is there? St. Paul give this instruction: Ephesians 6:14
When a tree is cut down it reveals the growth rings of that tree. They are a record of the life history of the tree. Each year as the tree grows and new cells are generated, they create a discernible ring. Depending on the growing conditions of that particular year, these rings are wider when conditions were favorable, warmth, sunlight, abundance of water. But when growing conditions are poor, and the tree is under stress, the rings are smaller.
In Tuesday's gospel, Lk. 13:18-21, Jesus uses the analogy of a seed sown, that grows and matures to full stature. The history of the Church reveals the rings of growth of each generation. No doubt the rings our generation forms will reveal a time of stress, even decline of growth.
We take heart as we recall our long history and the promise of the Lord, "I am with you always, until the end of time".
A Meditation For the Thirtieth Sunday:
Turning on the TV or other media these days, it is hard to miss reports and updates on the Presidential election taking place in the U.S. It is interesting to watch how politicians try to appeal to various constituents, one of which is the various religious groups. To impress them, politicians like to boast about their own personal religiosity. Whether or not this works with the electorate may be uncertain. What is certain, as we learn in this Sunday’s gospel, boasting about one’s holiness to God, is fruitless.
It’s interesting to note how proud the Pharisee is about how much taxes he pays, (one of the candidates in this election seems to boast about how much taxes he doesn’t pay); but the Publican, the one who collects the taxes, is making no boasts. He is throwing himself totally on the mercy of God.
It’s fitting that we should be hearing this gospel at this time, in the Year of Mercy. Pope Francis has been calling all of us to deepen our understanding of the true nature of Divine Mercy.
It is not uncommon to find Catholics who believe that salvation is based on us and our personal religious practices. Thinking like the Pharisee, the more religious good works we do the greater God will love us. But that is not why God loves us. The Pharisee totally misses this while the tax collector begins to understand it.
Here is an example to think about. Look at yourselves when you have a new baby. From the first moment, you lay eyes on your child, when you a mother receives in her arms her son or daughter, what is happening in you, are you not flooded with love for your child; a love that from that moment on will never change or diminish?
Of course your child must live out its own God-given life, and maybe that life will turn out well, or possibly there may be troubles. But you will never stop loving your child, no less than the day when you first held them in your arms. And should they fall into a broken life, your love will never give up trying to redeem them from their trials.
That is unconditional love, a love full of mercy. That is the way God loves us. That is why He sent his to search us out and bring us home, especially us his broken ones. Hoping in that love brought the Publican to the temple to pray. That is why he went home right with God.
Five priests from the diocese of Hamilton, including myself, have accepted an invitation to come to the Diocese of Corner Broke Labrador, to relieve the local priests so that they could go for retreat and study days.
Our ministry began Oct. 15, 2016, and will conclude on Oct. 30.
From the moment I accepted this invitation, I have had a sense that while this will be a benefit to these communities, the Lord's Voice will have much to teach and enrich me as well. The thought of sharing these experiences has prompted the creation of this page on Voices Blog.
Perhaps my first experience has been such a strong sense of Presence. Indeed the Lord is here with His people. In this first first week I have been called to serve the Innu people at Sheshatshiu, Our Lady of the Snows parish with funerals. Today was our second funeral, two more coming in the next four days. Each time that deep sense of the Lord with us filled me. The labours of the evangelists who brought the faith to these people, has been fruitful.
In Tuesday's gospel this week, taken from chapter 10 of Luke, Jesus exhorts us, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest." The Voice of exhortation is our's to hear. Seriously