"Zacchaeus, you little thief, what are you doing up in that tree? Come on down here with the rest of us. You’re afraid of us, aren’t you? How ironic. You squeeze us for money, to send to your friends in Rome, but where does all your money get you? Up in that tree, alone. And, why do you care to see this Jesus from Nazareth? They say he’s been announcing that the Reign of God is at hand. That can’t be good for the likes of you. They say he heals people, too. That’s why this crowd is lining the road here. We want to just get close to him, maybe even touch him. Come on down, Zacchaeus. For once in your life, take a risk. Try to get up front and reach out and touch Jesus. Who knows, he might heal that greedy little heart of yours. Hey, here he comes!”
1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63; Luke 18:35-43
The scripture readings for today have a profound juxtaposition of despair and darkness followed by hope and salvation. In the First Reading, we see the horrible effects of turning away from God. Breakers of the law seduce the people of Israel to sacrifice to idols, profane the sabbath and burn incense to pagan altars. People of faith, who observed the laws were condemned to death. Imagine the despair of the faithful who would rather die than profane the holy covenant!
Some of us may see frightening parallels to our world today. The conflict of cultures, the idolatry of materialism and the growing feeling of isolation that many people of faith may feel. Even if we do not in our culture truly have the fear of death the uncertainty and insecurity of our daily lives can wear down our faith.
Malachi 3:19-20a; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19
As Christians, we believe the Messiah has already come; that the greatest questions have been answered; that the Savior of the world is only one, Jesus the Lord! The Kingdom of God is among us! So why do I continue looking for another Savior or placing too much hope in another?
We work so hard constantly seeking to build secure areas, safety nets, and comfort zones. We want things done the right way; that is, my way. We look for safety in family, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends. But the Lord tells us today, do not look there. It is not them. Do not follow them. The Lord loves to foil our plans, cross our boundaries, break down our walls and rattle our cage! And we resist!!! But what he is actually doing is breaking open our tomb and coming to our rescue. He alone is our one true brother, companion and friend. He alone is my Lord and Savior.
Jesus wants his disciples to be in continual dialogue with his most dear Father, just as He was. And Jesus exhorts his disciples to intensify this dialogue during times of stress, just as He did. The dialogue is, of course, prayer.
In today's Gospel Jesus chooses the rather strange parable of the corrupt judge to illustrate his point of praying always, especially in need. The judge ultimately grants the widow's petition not because the petition was just but because he does not want to be disturbed: "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me."
Wisdom 7:22b–8:1; Luke 17:20-25
The scripture speaks of wisdom. Christians are told to be wise. The reading from the book of Wisdom personifies wisdom as feminine, the crafter of all; wisdom is “an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty.” Wisdom is “the image of God’s goodness.” And the scribe wrote: “God loves nothing so much as the man/woman who lives with wisdom.”
Christians are told to be wise. The gospel has Jesus telling his followers not to go off and run in pursuit of an elusive kingdom of God or a fraudulent Son of Man. Rather, with reflection and wisdom, you will find both and realize that “the kingdom of God is among us.” We long for action, but the wise person knows, as Jesus knows, that the typical human state is not activity but watchfulness—“watch and pray” Jesus tells his followers.
In Our Days
These things we love: leaves in color, the night sky, ideas that prove true. Some days it is enough just to be here. Roll down the hill one more time. No one will know. First take off your glasses. Leaves stuck everywhere. Cry out. Even here we find God. When being here is enough. When we are not wrestling with death, not asking why, not needing more. But more is holy too.
How does God speak in our days? Days of hard work and troubled sleep. Is it enough? Will I make it? Got to push harder. Walk faster. The aloneness takes over and others pass like shadows over the water. A leaf blows to my lips and I spit it out.
Gratitude: God’s Gift to Us
He never said that they weren’t grateful. The “other nine” lepers whom Jesus had cured may have been quite glad to be free of their terrible malady—but we don’t hear them say that and, neither, apparently, did Jesus. Only one returned and gave thanks. Yes, it’s one thing to be thankful; it’s another to express the thanks, especially to God.
Wisdom 2:23-3:9; Luke 17:7-10
Today’s gospel can sound startling and uncomfortable to a rational, Western mind like mine. Jesus’ story uses the social structure of his time to make a point. You wouldn’t invite your servant to sit down at the table and serve you. His listeners understood – that would have been unthinkable.
Jesus says: “Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?” That may make our modern ears uncomfortable because few of us have servants today and we can’t comprehend a social structure that is so delineated.
Congratulations to new Leadership in the Delegature of Cameroon
On 22 October 2019, a new delegature team in Cameroon took over their responsibility. The following are the members of the Delegature Council:
Sr. Weronika Sakowska Delegature Superior
Sr. Anna Kot Vice-Delegature Superior
Sr. Fabiana Leitgeber Councilor
Sr. Urszula Żarów Councilor
Sr. Edyta Budynek Councilor
“If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed…” Luke 17:6
I can’t…I just can’t. Ever hear or say that one? I can’t forgive her for what she did. I can’t do what God wants me to do today, I have this work to do. I can’t love our enemies…not after what they did to us. I can’t turn the other cheek. I just can’t…I don’t have the strength…I need more faith.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus doesn’t accept that one. He has just explained to the disciples that they are to forgive those who act against them—over and over and over again. And, the disciples—like me—feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task, plead with Jesus to increase their faith.