03Nov 03 November, 2019. 31st Sunday (C)

1st Reading: Wisdom 11:22-12:2

Wisdom makes us humble in God’s presence

In your sight, Lord, the whole world is like a grain of dust that tips the scales, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground. Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook men’s sins so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you? You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable sprit is in all. Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend, you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you Lord.

Responsorial: Psalm 144:1-2, 8-11, 13-14

Response: I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God

I will give you glory, O God my King,
I will bless your name for ever.
I will bless you day after day
and praise your name for ever. (R./)

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures (R./)

All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord,
and your friends shall repeat their blessing.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign
and declare your might, O God. (R./)

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and loving in all hid deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall
and raises all who are bowed down. (R./)

2nd Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:11–2:2

Warning against being too alarmed about the Day of the Lord

We always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

Jesus dines with Zacchaeus, searching for what was lost

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”


Letting Jesus find us

A telling phrase in today’s Gospel makes clear the mindset of Jesus and throws light on all his activity. His purpose in life was always “to seek out and save what was lost.” If we recognise a certain lostness in ourselves, our way to be saved is to trust in him, and let him find us, just as he found Zacchaeus.

Being found by Jesus meant that Zacchaeus the tax-collecter had to let go of any arrogance based on his wealth. He humbled himself by climbing the sycamore tree, and then promised to hand over much of his wealth, to pay back those he had defrauded. In return, Jesus set aside his dignity as rabbi and a man of God by going to dine in the house of such a notorious sinner. One may assume that Zacchaeus, as chief tax collector in that city, had enriched himself at the expense of the pilgrims passing through Jericho on their way to religious festivals in Jerusalem.

Jesus looked up into sycamore tree and called Zacchaeus, “Hurry on down!” — for he knew the man was ready for a change of heart. St Luke adds that the conversion of Zacchaeus brought such joy not only to himself but to everyone around him. Truly, “the Son of Man has come to search out and save what was lost.”

Looking for Jesus

Whatever his faults may have been, Zacchaeus took great trouble to look for some contact with Jesus. He wanted to see what kind of man Jesus was. For this, he was prepared, quite literally, to go out on a limb, the leafy branch of a sycamore tree. He went to extravagant lengths to see Jesus, to really encounter him. In the process he found that the one he was searching for was also searching for him. “Come down, for I must stay at your house today,” said Jesus.

From his perch among the branches, Zacchaeus was amazed to be called to share a dinner with Jesus. When he threw open his house to Jesus and spoke of reforming his life, he received a greater gift in return, a welcome back to his community of faith. “Today, salvation has come to his house, because this man too is a son of Abraham.” There was place in God’s house for Zacchaeus, as there is for all of us. He was warmly welcomed in spite of his past. As in the case of Zacchaeus, our searching for God is preceded by God’s search for us. Whenever we seek the presence of Jesus, he is already there, willing to share and dine with us.

Sinne Faoi Bhrat Íosa

Ó bharr an chrainn sheiceamair mar a raibh Zacchaeus ina bhfolach, b’ ionadh leis nuair a glaodh air chuig séire le hÍosa. Nuair a chas sé ar Íosa agus nuair a gheall sé go dtabharfadh sé faoi malartú iompair in a shaol, bronnadh air fáilte agus cairdeas.

“Shrioch an slánú an teaghlach seo inniu, óir is de shliocht Abraham an fear seo leis.” Bhí ionad i dteach Dé do Zacchaeus agus dúinn go léir. Cuireadh fáilte roimhe ainneoin a dhroch gníomhartha. Maraon le Zacchaeus, fad a tháimíd ar thóir an Tiarna tá Sé cheana féin dár lorg.


Iarratas ar Gaeilgeóirí (ó Nollag, 2019 amach)

Iarram ar gaeilgeóirí líofa, a bhéad ábalta smaoineamh gearr a chur a fáil dúinn ó am go h’am. Má’a ea, tá fáilte rómhat leagan gaeilge a chur ar alt de mo théacs féin, nó alt úr-nua a chumadh le Domhnnaigh éagsúla.. Seól do dhréacht-téacs chugam in am trátha (cúpla seachtain roimh ré, ar a laghad) agus lig dom é a eagrú in ár ngnáthfhormáid… chun cabhrú le paróistí atá céiliúradh fós as Gaeilge. Má’s féidir leat cabhrú: patrogers43 AT gmail.com. Míle maith agaibh.



Saint Malachy of Armagh, bishop

Máel Máedóc or Malachy (1094-1148) was the first native born Irish canonised saint. He became abbot of Bangor, in 1123, later bishop of Down and Connor, and primate of Armagh (1132). In 1139 he journeyed to Rome, visiting Saint Bernard at Clairvaux, where he found monks for the first Cistercian Abbey in Ireland, (Mellifont, 1142.) In 1148 Malachy set off for Rome a second time, but fell ill at Clairvaux and died there. Portions of his relics were sent to Ireland in 1194 and kept at Mellifont and other Cistercian abbeys.

5 Responses

  1. Seamus Ahearne

    Climb every mountain (or tree)

    ‘Zachaeus was a greedy little man. He cheated all the people in the land.’ The children sometimes sing that song during their preparation for First Confession. It continues to ring in my ears (even grates).

    Never be-little; Be Big:
    It is a good story. Jesus (or Luke) liked colourful characters and dangled them everywhere to annoy us. Zachaeus is provocative. A little man. Short-man-syndrome or Napoleon Complex may apply. At least he was assertive. He wasn’t caught up in his dignity. He wasn’t in good standing with the neighbours. So it didn’t really matter. He showed some initiative. He went up a tree. He wanted to see. He had the gumption to do something about it. He could see and could be seen. Whether he just wanted to be noticed or to notice, isn’t too important. We all have to be adventurous. Climb a tree or a mountain to see a little more of life and God. To meet a different view. Some new scenery. To find our God.

    Tell your story:
    Zachaeus then tells us how bad he was and how good he was. (How easily it is for us to be slow to share our own faith story). He now had to provide B&B. I think Luke wished to ‘cock a snook’ at convention as he usually did. There is definitely a game going on. Whenever and wherever there is a possibility to challenge the mores of the time; he does it. How would he play with Jesus’ words and stories in Achill Island or Oughterard or with some of our proposed local housing plans? The NIMBYs might be in trouble or at least embarrassed. There would be more than a few grumblers. What would he do with the paragons of virtue at the CDF ( in their dealings with Sean Fagan / Tony Flannery)

    The Journey:
    Jericho features in the Good Samaritan story (Lk 10). In that story the traveller was going from Jerusalem to Jericho. In this story Jesus is going from Jericho to Jerusalem. So much happens on the journey of life with Jesus and with ourselves. We are now caught in a bit of tangle. Zachaeus is an amusing character and almost a figure of fun. Jesus goes to his home and to his table. He had lived an unattractive life and was despised. He was a rich man. He made money on the side and was siding with the invaders from Rome. He was a user. He wasn’t a likeable person. And yet somehow, we are given this ‘saint’ for our inspiration. Everything we know about ‘the good life’ is scuttled. The outsider becomes the insider. The villain becomes the hero. We need very big minds; big imaginations; big hearts to be part of the Jesus story on our Journey.

    No Closed Shop:
    Suggestions: Be very careful in how we build walls. The ones we lock in. The ones we ignore. The ones we dismiss. The ones who are not fit to be in our company or at our table. The ones who are unruly and not welcome at our Church or at our Eucharist. The ones who aren’t fit for Communion. Our thinking has to be always adventurous. We have to climb trees to see better. We have to make the effort to break through the crowded lives we lead (busyness/worries/people) to reach the God of our hearts. The Poetry of Faith won’t be found simply. We sometimes have to make fools of ourselves to reach a God who is playful, challenging and teasing. The ‘home of our lives’ has to be always hospitable. We can always learn from anyone and everyone if our hearts aren’t shut. Faith- talk has to be constantly stretching the elastics of our minds for new understanding. There is no closed shop. Climb that tree.
    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Pádraig McCarthy

    It’s evident that Zaccheus had heard about Jesus. Wherever he heard this, it clearly intrigued him to the extent that he would lower himself (!) to climbing a tree. And now he discovers that it is not just that he wanted to see Jesus; Jesus actually wants to see Zaccheus! The encounter is a life-changing experience for him.

    The members of our congregation today are coming to climb the tree. Will they hear about who this Jesus is – or will it be an encounter? Will it be life-changing? Will they know that Jesus wants to come home with them?

    Luke seems to say that Jesus has a soft spot for tax collectors. He called one, Matthew, to follow him (Luke 5:27-28), and Matthew left everything to follow Jesus. Last Sunday (Luke 18:1-8) we had a tax collector at the temple, who went home justified, while a Pharisee who kept the law and went even beyond his obligations did not.

    There’s also Luke 18:18-23, shortly before today’s reading (not in the Lectionary for Sundays) where a rich man who “kept all the commandments from his earliest days” could not bring himself to part with his riches. The contrast with Zaccheus is striking. (The gospels as written did not have our divisions into chapters until the 13th century.)

    There may be ambiguity about Zaccheus: when he tells of giving to the poor and making fourfold restitution, the verb in Greek in each case is present tense: “I give / I give back.” Whether it means he is now starting to do this, or that he has been doing this already, is unclear. John J Pilch writes: “I side with the scholars who claim Zacchaeus converted earlier and was misjudged by the grumbling Pharisees.” (https://liturgy.slu.edu/31OrdC110319/theword_cultural.html)

    Zaccheus welcomes Jesus into his house, just as Martha and Mary did (Luke 10:38) into their home, seemingly without embarrassment.

    What is clear is what his life from now is. Even if he was a fully law-abiding Jew already, the encounter with Jesus transforms his life further.

    Jesus calls him a son of Abraham. As are we. As Jesus sought Zaccheus, so he seeks us each day. Whether we realise it or not, without him we are lost. Now we are invited (today) to table fellowship with Jesus, both here at Mass and in our own homes.
    You might like to lay an extra place at the table at home today as a reminder of this. And to remember that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us.

    Zaccheus was intrigued at what he had heard about Jesus. There are some who would see our following of Jesus as foolish, or badly misled, or contrary to modern values. But perhaps there could be some who would be intrigued at our way of life, so as to wonder: “What or who makes such a difference in their lives?”

  3. Paddy Ferry

    I have just now read Séamus and Pádraig above so I am well ready for Zaccheus in the morning. I have also read Pat’s initial reflection and I know the whole thing depends on Pat. It is a shame we don’t have national awards at home like knighthoods. For the work he continues to do here, Pat would be a worthy recipient.

    I had forgotten who Malachy was. Inter cert history was a long time ago. The pride we felt at how our saints and scholars re-evangelised Europe after the Dark Ages.

    There is no excuse for any priest delivering a substandard sermon with this resource available. When I was a lad, people would tell me I would make a great priest! Now, I know for a fact I would certainly be able to deliver wonderful sermons.

  4. Paddy Ferry

    A final word on Zacchaeus from Fr. James Martin SJ.

    Zacchaeus and those on the margins.
    Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 19:1-11)
    The Gospel of Luke tells us the beautiful story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus. Jesus is traveling through Jericho, a huge city. He’s on his way to Jerusalem, and it’s toward the end of his ministry, so he would have been well known in the area. As a result, he probably had a large crowd following him.
    In Jericho, there is a man named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region and so would have also been seen by the Jewish people as the “chief sinner.” Why? Because he would have been seen as colluding with the Roman authorities. So Zacchaeus was someone who was probably on the outs with everyone.
    Now, here I would like you to invite you to think of Zacchaeus as a symbol for those on the margins, specifically, the L.G.B.T. Catholic. Not because the L.G.B.T. people are more sinful than the rest of us—because we’re all sinners. But because they feel so marginalized. Think of the L.G.B.T. person as Zacchaeus.
    Luke’s Gospel describes Zacchaeus as “short in stature.” How little “stature” L.G.B.T. people often feel that they have in the church! Luke also says that Zacchaeus could not see Jesus “on account of the crowd.” That was probably because of his height, but how often does the “crowd” get in the way of the person with “little stature,” the L.G.B.T. person, encountering Jesus? When are we in the church part of the “crowd” that doesn’t let L.G.B.T. people come close to God?
    So Zacchaeus climbs a tree, because, as Luke tells us, he wanted to see “who Jesus was.” And this is what the L.G.B.T. person wants: to see who Jesus is. But the crowd gets in the way.
    Imagine how embarrassing this must have been for Zacchaeus: not only climbing the tree like a child, but also putting on display his “short stature.” Yet those on the margins often have to “go out on a limb” just to be able to do things that others take for granted.
    Now here comes Jesus making his way through Jericho, probably with hundreds of people clamoring for his attention. And whom does he point to? One of the religious authorities? One of his disciples? No, to Zacchaeus! And what does he say to Zacchaeus? Does he shout, “Sinner!” Does he shout, “You terrible tax collector”?
    No! He says, “Hurry down for I must stay at your house today!” It’s a public sign of welcome to someone on the margins.
    And Zacchaeus comes down and receives Jesus “with joy.” Think of what it’s like for someone on the margins, who has felt excluded for so long, to feel welcome. It evokes joy!
    Then comes my favorite line in the story: “All who saw it began to grumble!” Which is exactly what is happening today toward L.G.B.T. people. People grumble! Go online and you’ll see all the grumbling. An offer of mercy to someone on the margins always makes people angry.
    But Zacchaeus climbs down from the tree and, as the Gospels say, he “stood there.” The original Greek is much stronger, “statheis”: he stood his ground. How often have L.G.B.T. people had to stand their ground in the face of opposition and prejudice in the church? How often do people with “little stature” have to do that?
    Then Zacchaeus says that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and repay anyone he has defrauded four times over. An encounter with Jesus leads to a conversion, as it does for everyone. And what do I mean by conversion? Not “conversion therapy.” No, the conversion that happens to Zacchaeus is the conversion that we’re all called to.
    In the Gospels, Jesus calls it “metanoia,” a conversion of minds and hearts. For Zacchaeus, conversion meant giving to the poor.
    By the way, some New Testament scholars think that this line could be as easily translated as “I am giving half of my possessions to the poor.” That is, he is already giving money to the poor. The one who was thought to be a sinner turns out to be more generous than anyone suspected.
    All this, Zacchaeus’s “metanoia,” comes from an encounter with Jesus. Because Jesus’ approach was, more often than not, community first, conversion second. For John the Baptist the model was to convert first and then be welcomed into the community. This is an insight from the Scripture scholar Ben Meyer.
    For Jesus, it’s community first, conversion second. Welcome and respect come first.
    This is how Jesus treats people who feel on the margins. He seeks them out before anyone else; he encounters them, and he treats them with respect, sensitivity and compassion.
    So when it comes to L.G.B.T. people and their families in our church, it seems that there are two places to stand. You can stand with the crowd, who grumble and who oppose mercy for those on the margins. Or you can stand with Zacchaeus, and, more important, with Jesus

  5. Eddie Finnegan

    Time to dust off your old Inter-Cert History book! Meanwhile, Wikipedia isn’t at all bad to help bone up on our Irish Saints and their Gaelscrínte san Eoraip. We had Gall back on 16th October, Odhran or Otteran last week, Maolmhadhóg or Malachy on Sunday 3rd, All the Saints of Ireland today, 6th, Columban(us) coming up on 23rd, and Fearghal or Virgilius of Aghaboe (Laois) & Salzburg on 27th.
    A possibly prophetic, and typically lighthearted, paragraph on Malachy from his comharb or successor and expert on those Gaelscrínte i gCéin or Gaelscrínte san Eoraip, +Tomás Ó Fiaich, who was born on Malachy’s feastday 3rd November 1923:

    “Malachy is only one of four Irishmen in all our history who have been canonised by Rome. Despite Ireland’s ancient title of ‘Insula Sanctorum’ (‘Island of Saints’), the whole host of our Irish saints, including the three national patrons, had to depend on popular acclaim in the hearts and memories of their own people for inclusion in local martyrologies. Only St Laurence O’Toole, St Virgilius of Salzburg and, since 1975, St Oliver Plunkett, shared in papal canonisation with St Malachy. Remarkably enough, they were all bishops, and all of them died on foreign travels!”

    As you may guess, Paddy, in South Armagh we don’t hang around waiting for Rome and her dubious canonical miracles. By Vox Pop(ulorum) we canonised +Tomás 30 years ago next May. And yes, we did consult several local Advocati Diaboli who knew Tom’s breed, seed and generation inside out, so all is above board and all protocol duly observed.

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