O.T. 31 [C] Sunday (November 3) Homily- One-page summary (L/19)
Introduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the benevolent, compassionate and forgiving mercy of God for sinners and the response of repentance and conversion expected from us.
Scripture lessons summarized: The first reading reminds us that God’s Almighty Power includes His strength to be merciful. That is why God, who created the universe mercifully, waits for sinners to repent. God continues to love us, even when we do not love Him in return. The reading focuses on the love God has for all He has created, the love that overlooks sin so that we all have time for repentance. God shows us His redemptive love through His mercy. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), the Psalmist also tells us that the Lord is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness (Ps. 148:8). In the second reading, St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to persevere in their Christian Faith, giving glory to God, without idly waiting for the “second coming” of Christ in their lifetime. He advises them to continue to live a good Christian life every day, allowing God to work in their lives so that they may be worthy of their vocation as Christians. Today’s Gospel presents the story of the instantaneous conversion of the tax-collector, Zacchaeus. God’s grace led him to a moment of conversion. The account describes how Jesus recognized Zacchaeus for exactly what he was, a lost sinner in need of a Savior, and how God’s grace worked in Zacchaeus to lead him from idle curiosity to repentance, conversion and restitution. The episode emphasizes the fact that such a conversion can only result from a person’s fully receiving the love, acceptance and grace offered to everyone one by a merciful Lord.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation for repentance. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today. Let us remember that Jesus loves us in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, sullied ideals, lack of prayer and Faith, resentments and lusts. Hence, let us admit our sinfulness and accept God’s call to repentance, conversion and renewal of life.
2) Let us love others as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, despite his sins. Parents and teachers need to accept children lovingly, without first setting up standards of behavior as conditions for being loved. Husband and wife may have qualities that irritate each other. But they should not withhold love from each other. Nor should they withhold their love from a rebellious teenager making stupid and even dangerous choices because of immaturity and peer-pressure.
3) We are called to generosity: Jesus wants us to move from our small and feeble Faith to a greater and more powerful Faith, just as Zacchaeus did. He also wants us to be financially and spiritually generous.
OT 31 [C] (Nov 3) Wis 11:22–12:2; 2 Thes 1:11–2:2. Lk 19:1-10 (L/19)
Homily starter anecdotes: #1: Life is Worth Living. In the early 1950s, a TV program captured the attention of millions throughout the word, particularly the English-speaking segment. It was Ven. Bishop Fulton Sheen’s program: Life is Worth Living. The opening, dramatic lines spoken by the Bishop as he introduced the program were, “Is life worth living, or is it dull and monotonous? Life is monotonous if it is meaningless; it is not monotonous if it has purpose.” Today’s readings tell us that life is worth living, if we are ready to experience the mercy of a forgiving God who accepts us as we are. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
#2: A man who decided to change himself: William L. Stidger in his book, There Are Sermons in Stories, once told about the owner of a small drugstore. For some reason, this druggist hated his work, so he spent his mornings looking for something better and his afternoons at the ballpark. He soon decided it was foolish to leave a business about which he knew something for one about which he knew nothing. So, he decided to make the best of what he had. He would build up his business by giving the best service possible. When a customer who lived near would call in an order on the telephone, he would repeat each item being ordered and his assistant would fill the order. With the order filled, the owner would keep the customer on the line while the delivery boy dashed out the front door. When the delivery boy reached the house of the customer, who was still on the line with the drugstore owner, she would excuse herself for a minute to answer the door. Coming back to the phone she would express great surprise at the quickness with which the order was delivered. News got around about the drugstore that filled orders so promptly, and soon Charles R. Walgreen, founder of the great Walgreen drugstore empire, had more business than he could handle. Walgreen said his work was easy, like a game, and he soon found great joy in what he had once despised. [Rev. J.B. Fowler, Jr., Illustrated Sermons for Special Occasions, (Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1988).] Walgreen decided that, since he could not change his situation, he would change himself. That is what Zacchaeus did in today’s Gospel story.(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
# 3: “I’m so not the Material Girl now.” In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the singer and actress who calls herself Madonna explains how her life has changed since she first came to fame in the early 80s. Referring to one of her more famous songs, “Material Girl,” (https://genius.com/Madonna-material-girl-lyrics) Madonna claims, “I’m so not the Material Girl now. There were many years when I thought fame, fortune, and public approval would bring me happiness. But one day you wake up and realize they don’t. [“Oprah Talks to Madonna,” O Magazine (January 2004), p. 122).] Motherhood is what ultimately inspired the singer to seek out the more meaningful things in life. “The big turning point was when I was about to become a parent. I wanted to understand what I would teach my daughter, and I didn’t know where I stood on things. I wanted to know the meaning of true lasting happiness and how I could go about finding it,” revealed Madonna. Today’s Gospel describes how Zacchaeus came to that conclusion the day Jesus entered his life. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/).
#4: An IRS story: A young family went to a nice restaurant for dinner one evening. One of the little boys in the family happened to find a bright shiny dime and was fascinated by it. He put it in his mouth and while talking started to coke on it. The parents got frantic and started calling on anyone to help their choking son. A man at the nearby table came over, turned the boy upside down, gave him a strong pressure on the abdomen (Heimlich maneuver) and the dime came out of the boy’s windpipe. The parents were so grateful and asked the man whether he was a doctor or medical practitioner. No, the man said. I work for the IRS. Today’s gospel presents the conversion of Palestinian IRS officer by name Zacchaeus by a loving and merciful invitation by Jesus. (Fr. Joe Robinson).
(Fr. Joe Robinson).ntroduction: The common theme of today’s readings is the benevolent and forgiving mercy of God for sinners and the response of repentance and conversion expected from us. In the words of today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), “The Lord is good to all, and compassionate toward all His works” (v. 9). The first reading reminds us that God’s Almighty Power includes His strength to be merciful. That is why God, who created the universe mercifully, waits for sinners to repent. He “rebukes the offenders little by little,” “warns them of their sins” and reminds them to “abandon their wickedness.” God continues to love us even when we do not love Him in return. The reading focuses on the love God has for all He has created, the love that overlooks sin to give us time for repentance. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 145), the Psalmist also tells us, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness” (Ps. 145:8). In the second reading, St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to persevere in their Christian Faith, giving glory to God without idly waiting for the “second coming” of Christ in their lifetime. He advises them to continue living good Christian lives every day, allowing God to work their lives so that they may be worthy of their vocation as Christians. “We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call and may fulfill every good resolve and work of Faith by His power” (2 Thes 1:11). St. Paul advises his Christian community to place its trust in the Lord and rely on His love and mercy. He wants them to endure their daily circumstances patiently and to stop worrying about the next day’s possible troubles, especially those rumors about the end-time. Today’s Gospel presents the beautiful story of the instantaneous conversion of the tax-collector, Zacchaeus. God’s grace led him to a moment of conversion. The account describes how Jesus recognized Zacchaeus for exactly what he was, a lost sinner in need of a Savior, and how God’s grace worked in Zacchaeus to lead him from idle curiosity to repentance, conversion and restitution. The episode emphasizes the fact that such a conversion can only result from a person’s fully receiving the love, acceptance and grace offered to everyone by a merciful Lord.
The first reading: Wisdom: 11:22-12:2 explained. The writer, a learned sage from the ancient university city of Alexandria, is attempting to boost the Faith of his fellow Jews by answering the question, “Why doesn’t God do away with evil men?” The answer is that, unlike men, God is benevolent toward all His creatures. God´s love for what He has created becomes a redemptive love through His mercy. God loves His creation, and because of this love He pardons and is patient with people who have gone astray, so that they may repent. God’s Providence for all His creatures is clearly shown through His strength and the compassion with which He both can and does deal mercifully with all men. What the Book of Wisdom tells us is that we could not even exist if we were not loved by God. Through His gifts of Faith and Love, God graciously calls each one of us. Through this Divine mercy, we see the fulfillment of the promise, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:34; Heb 8:12). The Book of Wisdom consoles us saying, “You overlook people’s sins so that they may repent” (11:23).
The second reading: II Thessalonians 1:11-22 explained. St. Paul’s second letter to the Church in Thessalonica encourages the Thessalonians to persevere in their Christian Faith, giving glory to God without idly waiting for the “second coming” of Christ in their lifetime. This letter was intended to correct certain misunderstandings which had arisen in the community. Someone had brought to the believers at Thessalonica either a message or a letter alleged to be from Paul. The letter asserted that the Day of the Lord, i.e., the second coming of Jesus, had already occurred. Some people in the community reacted with terror, while others quit work, and were making nuisances of themselves as they awaited the full effect of the Lord’s coming (The Collegeville Bible Commentary). The letter exhorts the Thessalonians, and us, to glorify the Name of Jesus and to conduct ourselves in such a way as to become worthy of God’s call by “relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace.”
Gospel exegesis: The context: A rich ruler came to Jesus asking how he might be saved (Luke 18). But he went away sad after learning that he would have to sacrifice his riches. When the Apostles wondered if any man with possessions could be saved, Jesus assured them, “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God” (18:18-27). This account leads naturally to our Gospel lesson, the story of Zacchaeus, a rich man who found salvation when he surrendered himself to the grace of God. The rich ruler was too attached to his possessions to give them to the poor. The repentant Zacchaeus, on the other hand, voluntarily pledged to give half his possessions to the poor and to make fourfold restitution to any one he might have cheated. The story of Zacchaeus reinforces the lessons of the fifteenth chapter of Luke in which a lost sheep and a lost coin are found, and a lost son is embraced. It also demonstrates the fact that nobody is beyond the possibility of conversion.
The tax and tax-collectors: Jericho was a very wealthy, commercial town in the Jordan valley, famous for its date palms and balsam groves. There were two major highways in Israel at that time, and one of them went through Jericho. Hence, Jericho was one of the great tax centers of Palestine and its tax-collectors were rich and notorious. Zacchaeus, as chief tax-collector in Jericho (roughly equivalent to a district director of the U. S. Internal Revenue Service, the IRS), was probably a man of much wealth and few friends. From the time of Julius Caesar, the options for collecting Rome’s taxes were auctioned off to the highest bidder in each municipality. In order to win the bid, the prospective tax collector would have had to pay to Rome, in advance, all the taxes due in his locale. Then, he would hire agents who would help in collecting the taxes so that he could recoup his initial investment, pay his agents and make a generous profit as well. He cheated not only on his return, but everyone else’s. He had figured out a way to skim some money off the top and squeeze the last drop from peoples’ wallets. Moreover, being a boss himself, no doubt Zacchaeus also took a little off the top from each of his tax-collectors. Because the tax collectors extorted sizable amounts of interest in addition to the taxes fixed by Rome, they were despised by their own townspeople. Since Zacchaeus had reached the top of his profession, he was the most hated man in the district, considered by the other Jews as a traitor, a thief and an outcast.
The official climbs a tree: It was Passover time, which meant that tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims were coming down from Galilee, by-passing Samaria and coming to the toll booth at Jericho to pay their taxes. Bible scholars tell us that two or three million people showed up for the Passover. Jesus also made this trip, coming from Galilee in the north, to Jerusalem in the south, by way of Jericho. Since Jesus had become very famous by that time, people passing through the customs-house at Jericho wanted to see him. Naturally, Zacchaeus was curious to see the new rabbi from Nazareth who, people said, welcomed tax-collectors and sinners as his friends. Zacchaeus might even have heard that a former tax-gatherer, Levi, was one of Jesus’ disciples. Therefore, despite the expected ridicule he might receive from the crowd, he resolved to get a look at Jesus. To escape the crowd and get a clear vision of Jesus, he climbed a sycamore tree–a tree with a short trunk and wide branches–and sat hidden in its leafy branches. Jesus noticed him, however, and cheerfully called, “Zacchaeus! Come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house!” They went off together, the sinner and the Son of God. Just as Zacchaeus had exposed himself to ridicule by climbing a tree, so Jesus exposed himself to criticism by visiting Zacchaeus’ house. A mere glance and a few words of acceptance from Jesus changed this man from the sinner the community thought him to be into a man to whom Jesus had brought salvation. The presence of Jesus had given to Zacchaeus the twin gifts of Grace and Justification. Zacchaeus’ heart was changed, and he repented of his sins. We, too, are often blocked from seeing the Lord because other people get in the way. They block our sight in many ways. Parents block the sight of their children when they don’t pray with them or take them to Mass. Cultural forces, like those in the entertainment industry or in public schools or institutions of higher learning, or sports and games impede our vision by distorting Jesus’ image, ignoring him altogether, or ridiculing those who believe in him. Sometimes even those who should be icons of Jesus — priests, religious, catechists, godparents — obscure our vision through their scandalous lives or un-Christian behavior. The example of Zacchaeus challenges each of us to consider what is the extent to which we go, what trees or obstacles we’ll mount, in order to see Jesus more clearly.
The secret of instant conversion: What was the cause of Zacchaeus’ instantaneous conversion? By entering Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus gave back to its owner the dignity that he had lost and restored his sense of self-worth. Jesus gave him a new life. By making no demands on Zacchaeus, Jesus gave him a feeling of acceptance and a new direction for his life. Hence during the banquet, Zacchaeus made the solemn announcement of his repentance and committed himself to doing justice by the sharing of his wealth (giving half his possessions to the poor), and the making of reparations (fourfold to the defrauded). This exceeded what the Torah asked (Ex 22:1-4, 21:2). (According to the law as recorded in the Jewish scriptures, when one who had cheated another confessed his guilt and volunteered to make restitution, the amount required was equal to the amount stolen plus one fifth more (Leviticus 6:5, Numbers 5:7)). Zacchaeus did not make this offer to win Jesus’ approval, but to show his gratitude. Hence, confirming the integrity of Zacchaeus’ conversion and affirming the quality of his Faith, Jesus announced that salvation had not come to Zacchaeus alone, but rather to his entire household. Zacchaeus’ household would now share in his blessings as they had previously shared in his unjust practices (Acts 10:2, 11:14, 16:15, 16:31, 18:8).
Son of Abraham once again: The story of the conversion of Zacchaeus ends with Jesus’ declaration, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” This man, who had previously considered an outcast, was addressed by Jesus as a “son of Abraham.” Zacchaeus was not saved in isolation. His salvation would affect the entire community, since he would provide support for the poor and restitution to those he had defrauded. A community would be transformed by the presence of a tax-collector whom people could trust. Zacchaeus reminds us that Jesus continues to call the strangest people from the strangest places. With more than seventy-five percent of people suffering from a conviction of low self-worth, Zacchaeus serves as a good example of how to resist and survive the critical comments of others.
Life messages: 1) We need to accept the Divine invitation for repentance. Jesus takes the initiative of knocking at the door of our souls, asking for entry. We have one thing in common with Zacchaeus: like him, we are all sinners and therefore we need salvation, which requires the total rehabilitation of formerly sinful man. It is a process of discipleship: seeking, meeting, undergoing conversion, and following. To refuse to admit that we are sinners is a fundamental impediment to the working of the mercy and grace of God in our hearts. A second and more common impediment is to refuse to listen to the call to repentance, which God so frequently sends out to us. We are all sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus is inviting each one of us to total conversion today by means of this Gospel lesson. Jesus is our loving Brother who died that we might live. He is the Son of God, a God of Infinite Love. Hence, let us expose and confess to Him all our weaknesses and injustices. Let us remember that Jesus loves us in spite of our ugly thoughts, broken promises, sullied ideals, lack of prayer and Faith, resentments and lusts. He will put us back on the straight road to Heaven. We will become again true “sons and daughters of Abraham.” In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the confessional, Jesus ministers to us individually, just as he interacted individually with Zacchaeus. As Zacchaeus did, we need to come down, to leave the perches of our pride and allow Jesus to go to work through his priestly ministers.
2) We need to love others as Jesus loves us, in spite of our sins. Jesus loved Zacchaeus–the greatest of sinners–and by that love Zacchaeus was transformed. How many parents and teachers can accept children lovingly, without first setting up standards of behavior as conditions for being loved? Sometimes we have the temptation to withhold love from people we consider sinners. For example, a husband and wife may have qualities that grate on each other, prompting one spouse to withhold love from the other. There may be a temptation to withhold one’s love from a rebellious teenager. Perhaps our children make choices that disappoint us, and we become so frustrated by the consequences of their poor choices that we withhold our love from them. Our boss may be unlovable and autocratic, or our neighbor may become an object of hatred because of his incessantly barking dog. But just as Jesus loved Zacchaeus, even though he was the worst of sinners, so we must love others in spite of their sin. Jesus expects this of us, and offers us the strength to do it, if we will accept His grace.
3) We are called to generosity: Zacchaeus was changed from being greedy to being generous, from selfishness to selflessness. There was a change deep within his heart. Jesus wants us to move from our small and feeble Faith to a greater and more powerful Faith, just as Zacchaeus did. God wants us to be financially and spiritually generous. When we feel the warmth of God’s presence within us, that warmth will, in itself, melt our coldness and selfishness and lead us to repentance and a change of life.
4) How would we respond to Jesus’ demand, “I must stay at your house today?” How would we react to such an invitation? Would we be ready to welcome Jesus into our home? Indeed, Jesus has visited the homes of each and every one of us! Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, we have received the indwelling Spirit of Christ within us. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we receive the Divine Presence of the Lord. Further, if we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us (1 Jn. 4:13). Hence, let us be thankful to the Lord for coming to us. For those of us who have not yet received the Lord into our homes and lives, it is never too late to repent and welcome Him. Our Lord is a God of Love, Grace and Mercy. He does not wish to see anyone lost. If we allow Jesus to enter our lives, our lives will change. Grace is the driving power behind this transformation. As we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us pray for all of us who do not yet have the indwelling of the Lord God in our homes and lives. Let us ask the Lord to reach out to us all as he reached out to Zacchaeus. The result will be repentance, transformation, sanctification, salvation.
JOKES OF THE WEEK
1) A pastor was asked by one of the presidential candidates,
“Name something my government can do to help your church if I am elected president.” The pastor replied, “Quit making one-dollar bills.”
2) Dear Lord, so far today I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, and haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I’m very thankful for that. But in a few minutes, Lord, I’m going to get out of bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot more help. Amen
USEFUL WEBSITE OF THE WEEK
1) 51 audio sermons by Bishop Sheen: http://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/articles/sheen.htm
Theological errors: http://www.catholic-dispatch.com/
4) Video Scripture study on O. T. 31 (C) Scripture by Fr. Geoffrey Plant: https://www.youtube.com/user/GeoffreyPlant2066; Non Catholic:
22- Additional anecdotes:
1) Blank spots on the tape. Time-lapse photography compresses a series of events into one picture. Such a photo appeared in an issue of National Geographic. Taken from a Rocky Mountain peak during a heavy thunderstorm, the picture captured the brilliant lightning display that had taken place throughout the storm’s duration. The time-lapse technique wove a fascinating, spaghetti-like web out of the individual bolts. In such a way, our sin presents itself before the eyes of God. Where we see only isolated or individual acts, God sees the overall web of our sinning. What may seem insignificant to us, something that passes with hardly any notice taken, creates a much more dramatic display from God’s panoramic viewpoint. Imagine when you die that Jesus comes to meet you and shows you the “time–lapse video” of your entire life. You will be surprised to see a number of blank spots on the tape along with all the good things you did. You ask why there are such blank spots and Jesus tells you these were the times when you sinned and asked for God’s mercy. When God forgives, He completely blanks out our sins and does not remember them. That’s what happens in today’s Gospel story. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) “My world crashed about me.” J. C. Penney was a man of advanced years before he committed his life fully to Jesus Christ. He had been a good man, honest, but primarily interested in becoming a success and making money. “When I worked for six dollars a week at Joslin’s Dry Goods Store back in Denver,” he confessed as he looked back on his life, “it was my ambition, in the sense of wealth in money, to be worth one hundred thousand dollars. When I reached that goal, I felt a certain temporary satisfaction, but it soon wore off and my sights were set on becoming worth a million dollars.” Mr. and Mrs. Penney worked hard to expand their business, but one day Mrs. Penney caught pneumonia, which claimed her life. It was then that J. C. Penney realized that having money was a poor substitute for the real purpose of life. “When she died,” he said, “my world crashed about me. To build a business, to make a success in the eyes of men, to accumulate money–what was the purpose of life? What had money meant for my wife? I felt mocked by life, even by God Himself.” After several more fiery trials, J. C. Penney was financially ruined and, naturally, in deep distress. That is when God was able to deal with his self-righteous nature and his love for money. After a spiritual conversion, he testified to God’s workings in his life. “I had to pass through fiery ordeals before reaching glimmerings of conviction that it is not enough for men to be upright and moral. When I was brought to humility and the knowledge of dependence on God, sincerely and earnestly seeking God’s aid, it was forthcoming, and a light illumined my being. I cannot otherwise describe it than to say that it changed me as a man.” Grace led him to a moment of conversion as it did Zacchaeus. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) “I work for the IRS”: There is a story about a local fitness center that was offering $1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate that they were stronger than the owner of the place. Here is how it worked. This muscle man would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and then hand the lemon to the next challenger. Anyone who could squeeze just one more drop of juice out, would win the money. Many people tried over time – other weightlifters, construction workers, even professional wrestlers, but nobody could do it. One day, a short and skinny guy came in and signed up for the contest. After the laughter died down, the owner grabbed a lemon and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains to the little man. The crowd’s laughter turned to silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass. As the crowd cheered, the manager paid out the winning prize and asked the short guy what he did for a living. “Are you a lumberjack, a weightlifter, or what?” The man replied, “I work for the IRS.” Today’s Gospel describes the conversion of a Jew who worked for the first-century Roman IRS. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) The transforming touch of the master’s hand: Snow Man was a gray white horse that Harry De Leyer picked up cheaply at a horse auction. Harry trained Snow Man, and the horse served well at the girls’ school where Harry was the riding master. However, when the school closed for the summer, a neighbor made a generous offer for Snow Man, and Harry could not afford to refuse it. So, Snow Man had a new home. Snow Man, however, liked his old home and his old master. Time and time again he jumped the neighbor’s high fences and returned to Harry. Finally, Harry bought his horse back. In that series of events, though, was a clue to Snow Man’s real greatness. Snow Man was a natural jumper, and the horse that once jumped fences to return to his loving previous master later jumped at Madison Square Garden for two national titles! [Paul Aurandt, ed., Paul Harvey’s the Rest of the Story, ed. (New York: Bantam Books, 1977), pp. 68).] All Snow Man needed was the love and attention of his master. That is what Zacchaeus needed as well. Zacchaeus knew that there was something more in life, and he was determined to experience it. He was willing to make whatever change was necessary in life to see his dream come true. After he had felt the touch of the Master’s hand, he was willing to live up to his new commitment by no longer being dishonest in his work, by making restitution for the wrongs he had done in the past, and by sharing what he had with the needy. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) Laurin Chapin encountered Jesus as Zacchaeus did: One of the most popular weekly programs in the early days of television was Father Knows Best. One of the stars of that show was little Laurin Chapin who played 11-year-old Kathy Anderson. Those familiar with this wholesome family program remember little Kathy in all of her innocence and charm. Unfortunately, Laurin Chapin’s real life was nothing like Kathy Anderson’s. We are told that Laurin’s mother drank very heavily. When the Father Knows Best series ended, Laurin couldn’t get another job in television. Alienated from her mother and from the world of make-believe that had given substance to her life, she began running wild. She turned to drugs, casual lovers and fast company. The next several years of her life were filled with eight miscarriages, welfare, a mental hospital and a host of times in and out of jails. At 38 years of age, Laurin Chapin encountered Jesus as Zacchaeus did in today’s Gospel. “All my life I’ve wanted to be loved,” she said. “God’s love is the most complete love, and I think that’s what I was looking for.” (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) Hunger for somebodiness: A few years ago, Vance Packard wrote a book he called The Staus Seekers. From him and others like him, we learn that having an office with a window and a carpet might be more important than getting a raise. So what encouragement is there for those who make sandwiches for a cafeteria? Or who fill mail orders at Wards? Or who make boxes at Hoerner Waldorf? Or who are retired – whose job history is in the past? Martin Luther King Jr. coined a word that says what we all hunger for: somebodiness. It seems to me that’s one way to describe what was driving Zacchaeus, his urge to be somebody. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) “Hands off, Zacchaeus.” The Eighth Commandment is God’s way of screaming “Hands off!” There are hundreds of ways to steal. Just consider all the words we have for it: gyp, lift, loot, nab, pinch, pluck, pilfer, snatch, swindle, embezzle, defraud, and plagiarize. Stealing can be as direct as a woman putting on three slips in a fitting room, putting her dress on over them, and walking out. Or, stealing can be as complicated as borrowing money on non-existent ammonia tanks or setting up bogus corporate accounts in which to deposit illegal fees. Consider these modern means of theft: junk bonds, computer hacking, stock manipulation and influence-peddling. Or a cotton broker could sell cotton to himself while collecting under the agricultural subsidy program. Larceny is in our blood. Look back across our history. We stole land from the Native Americans by trading beads, baubles, and alcohol. We built the entire economy of the South on the legal theft of liberty and labor from African American slaves. We have a long and infamous history of theft. There is a socio-economic injustice related to stealing. Poor people, with no money to hire skilled attorneys, waste away in prisons for stealing a car or TV, while officers of huge corporations manipulate the stock market, embezzle, and bill our government for defense contract overruns. Few of them are ever even accused of wrong-doing. Ours is a society “on the take,” and stealing is one of our most blatant sins. Today’s Gospel challenges the stealers to follow the example of conversion shown by Zacchaeus. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) “You see, he’s Paul Adams now.” The novelist, A. J. Cronin, tells a story from his own experience as a doctor that catches the wonder of this gift of grace. The Adams family at the close of the Second World War decided to open their home to a little refugee boy with the outlandish name of Paul Piotrostanalzi. The Adams had two daughters and a son named Sammy. Sammy and Paul became inseparable friends, but little Paul was a difficult child, and often disobeyed Mr. and Mrs. Adams. One day, little Paul went swimming in some contaminated water. He became very ill with a high fever, and the doctor suggested he sleep in an attic bedroom. But little Sammy missed his friend Paul so much that one night he crept up the attic stairs and into bed with Paul. Paul’s hot breath fell on Sammy’s neck all night. In the morning, Sammy, never a strong child, became deathly ill. Paul recovered his health, but Sammy died within three days. It was a terrible tragedy for the Adams family. A year later Dr. Cronin decided to pay a call on the Adams family. But as he pulled into their driveway, he was amazed and then angry as he saw Paul, the refugee boy, working in the garden with Mr. Adams. He got out of his car and angrily approached Mr. Adams. “What’s this Paul Pio…….. whatever his name is, doing here after what he did to your family?” Mr. Adams looked at the doctor and then said quietly, “Dr. Cronin, you won’t have any more trouble with Paul’s name. You see, he’s Paul Adams now. We’ve adopted him.”1 That is a wonderful story of costly grace, and that is exactly the wonderful gift that Jesus once gave to a heart-hungry tax collector named Zacchaeus. [A. J. Cronin, Adventures in Two Worlds (The Ryerson Press, 1952).] (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) “Am I a worthless sinner?” Things to remember next time you feel like a worthless sinner whom God can’t use: Noah was a drunk, Abraham was too old, Isaac was a day-dreamer, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was a coward, Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was deeply depressed, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Naomi lost both her husband and her two sons to death and her daughter-in-law Ruth was a foreigner, not a Jew. Job went bankrupt, John the Baptist ate locusts, Peter denied Christ, the apostles fell asleep while praying, Martha worried about everything, Mary was esxtravagant, the Samaritan woman was divorced more than once, Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was a fanatic, Timothy had an ulcer…and Lazarus was dead! We have no more excuses now. God can use us to our full potential. Besides, we aren’t the message; we are just the messenger.(http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) “Your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” Several years ago, a schoolteacher assigned to visit children in a large city hospital received a routine call requesting that she visit a particular child. She took the boy’s name and room number and was told by the teacher on the other end of the line, “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his homework, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.” It wasn’t until the visiting teacher got outside the boy’s room that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just turn and walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” The next morning a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to that boy?” Before she could finish a profusion of apologies, the nurse interrupted her: “You don’t understand. We’ve been very worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He’s fighting back, responding to treatment . . . It’s as though he’s decided to live.” The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw that teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears he expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?” [Parables, Etc. (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991).] To know that someone believes in us makes all the difference in the world. The conviction that Jesus believed him caused the instant conversion of Zacchaeus. ((http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) “I can be a lady to you.” Many of you have seen the delightful Broadway musical and motion picture, My Fair Lady. It is based on George Bernard Shaw’s wonderful play, Pygmalion. It is about a brilliant professor, Henry Higgins, who transforms a humble flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into an elegant English lady. In the midst of her brilliant transformation, Eliza falls in love with Henry Higgins, but he treats her only with disdain. Towards the end of the play, she expresses her complaint to their mutual friend, Colonel Pickering: “You see,” she says, “Really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking, and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not in how she behaves, but how she is treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.” It is both interesting and encouraging to notice how Jesus treated people, whether it be the woman of the streets or the tax collector in the tree. He saw something no one else could see. That is the first thing we need to see. Jesus was even more eager to see Zacchaeus than Zacchaeus was to see him. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) Pig traveling in the first class from Philadelphia to Seattle: Speaker Les Parrot tells about a pig that flew aboard a US Airways jet from Philadelphia into Les’ home city of Seattle. Two passengers convinced an airline representative that the pig needed to fly with them as a “therapeutic companion pet”–like a seeing-eye dog–so the representative decided to permit the pig to sit with them in the first-class cabin of the plane. It was a decision he would soon regret. Passengers described the 300-pound pig as “enormous, brown, angry, and honking.” He was seated in three seats near the front of the plane, but the attendants reportedly had difficulty strapping him in. “He became restless after takeoff and sauntered through the cabin,” one passenger said. “He kept rubbing his nose on people’s legs trying to get them to give him food and stroke him.”
Upon landing, things only got worse. The pig panicked, running up and down through economy class and squealing. Many passengers, also screaming, stood on their seats. It took four attendants to escort the beast off the plane. And when they reached the terminal, the pig escaped, only to be recaptured in another part of the airport. When asked to comment on the story, a US Airways spokesman named David said, “We can confirm that the pig traveled, and we can confirm that it will never happen again.” [Shoulda Coulda Woulda: Live in the Present and Find Your Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003).] That’s repentance. It happened. It was a mistake. It will never happen again. Zacchaeus said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house . . .” Zacchaeus was a changed man. He wasn’t simply a better man — he was a man who had moved from darkness to light. (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) George Wilson must be hanged: Back in 1830 George Wilson was convicted of robbing the U.S. Mail and was sentenced to be hanged. President Andrew Jackson issued a pardon for Wilson, but he refused to accept it. The matter went to Chief Justice Marshall, who concluded that Wilson would have to be executed. “A pardon is a slip of paper,” wrote Marshall, “the value of which is determined by the acceptance of the person to be pardoned. If it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must be hanged.” For some, the pardon comes too late. For others, the pardon is not accepted. (Prokope, V. 11, #5). Today’s Gospel describes how the tax collector wholeheartedly accepted the pardon offered by Jesus. (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) “The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns” “The life of Christianity consists of possessive pronouns.” It is one thing to say, “Christ is a Savior”; it is quite another thing to say, “He is my Savior and my Lord.” The devil can say the first; the true Christian alone can say the second. (A quote attributed to Martin Luther, but not found in any of his woks). Today’s Gospel tells us how Zacchaeus wholeheartedly accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. (Bible.org: Resource, July/August 1990). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) The “Tiny” star of Cincinnati Royals: Several years ago, there was a basketball player by the name of Nate Archibald. When Nate finished college, most of the professional teams ignored him because they thought he was too short. In fact, his nickname was ‘Tiny.” The Cincinnati Royals decided to take a chance on Nate and signed him to play on their team. Well, Nate made it big in the NBA because he was lightning fast, had good hands, and was a great shooter. He played in the NBA for fourteen seasons and became known as the player who proved that a “little man” could play in the NBA. Just look at some of the honors he won: He was named to the All-NBA team five times. He was named to the NBA All-Star team six times. He was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame. Not too bad for a man most people thought was too short to play in the NBA. –The Bible tells us about another short man who became great, even though he was not very tall. His name was Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was not only short, he was hated by almost everyone because he was a tax collector. As a tax collector, he often cheated people and collected more taxes than they owed. When he heard that Jesus was passing by, he climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus saw him, called him by name, invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house — and Zacchaeus was changed forever. When Jesus enters our lives, our shortcomings, our handicaps do not matter at all.
(John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) Forgiven people: In the movie The Mission, one of the leading characters is converted from being a slave-trader of the Brazilian Indians to being a Jesuit priest. But he insists on doing penance, dragging a heavy bundle through the jungle back to the Indians he used to enslave. Once back, in a dramatic, cliff-side scene, where the bundle threatened to make him fall, the Indians cut away the bundle. The people he had formerly enslaved forgave him and set him free. –We have to power to do the same for each other. As Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, we are a priesthood of believers who are to be priests for one another, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. We have the power to forgive as God’s sons and daughters. (John R. in Hear His Voice; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) Courage to change decisions: Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq who succeeded Ghazi was one of the most interesting, and colorful Rulers of India. He ruled Delhi from 1325 to 1351. Mohammad Bin Tughlaq shifted his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, located in the Deccan region of India. He did this to administer the provinces located in the south. Since things did not work out as he had planned, the capital was shifted back to Delhi after two years. Though Tughlaq was the unchallengeable monarch of his empire, when he realized the mistake in his decision, he had the good sense and courage to change it. In today’s Gospel we meet a powerful and wealthy man who declares his willingness and courage to change his ways and amend his life. (Fr. Bobby Jose). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost. Evelyn Waugh captures this dynamic in his novel Brideshead Revisited. Lord Marchmain is an elderly British aristocrat who returns to England to die. He’s a fallen-away Catholic. His daughter Julia, also a former Catholic, decides to invite a priest to visit her father. However, Lord Marchmain refuses to speak with him. Several days later, with death looming over Lord Marchmain, Julia again summons the priest. The narrator describes what happens next. Lord Marchmain is too weak to talk. The priest approaches to give him the anointing of the sick, and when he anoints his forehead, Lord Marchmain slowly lifts his hand to his forehead. For one sickening moment it seems that he’s going to brush away the oil, but instead he slowly makes the Sign of the Cross and dies shortly afterwards. The Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost. (E- Priest). (Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) Saint Ignatius Loyola gets Radical: When St Ignatius Loyola studied in Paris in the 1530’s, a priest he knew wasn’t exactly a paragon of virtue. He had broken his vows, and was living with a woman. He was giving terrible example to others. St Ignatius wasn’t content to ignore this man’s moral misery. He prayed for him. He sacrificed for him. And he did something else. He went to his house one night, knelt next to his bed, and asked him to hear his confession. When the priest witnessed Ignatius’s faith, something changed. He returned to the priesthood and began to dedicate himself to serving God’s people. Through Ignatius Loyola, Christ came to seek and to save what was lost. (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) Welcome aboard. Please keep writing in: A few years ago, an American priest who lives and works in Rome started doing regular television commentary for Fox News. People seemed to like hearing his point of view, so Fox eventually asked him to start a blog on their Web site. The priest in question, Fr. Jonathan Morris, agreed to do the blog, but he knew that it would give disgruntled people a chance to vent their anger at him. So, he made a promise to Christ that he would never respond to an angry email with anger. He would only respond with kindness. Since then, the angry emails have flooded in. It hasn’t been easy to absorb so many email punches without punching back, but with the help of God’s grace, he has kept his promise. And because of it, angry e-mailers have often been completely taken off guard, and he has even seen people completely change their negative view of the Catholic Church, just because they were treated with Christian mercy, with kindness and respect, the way Jesus treated Zacchaeus. Here is a real example of the kind of exchange he deals with daily: EMAIL FROM NANCY: God bless Jack Kevorkian, he is an enlightened bright light in this world of suffering. You, on the other hand, are [the devil] incarnate with your dreary rotting dogma. But more power to you ‘Father’ (ha) FR JONATHAN’S RESPONSE: Nancy, I think a lot of people on this blog were concerned about rigid and nonsensical dogma when they first started reading. Welcome aboard. Please keep writing in and explaining the reasons behind your disagreement. It will add a lot to our discussion.” That’s the response of a Christian who is living out his mission “to seek and to save.” (E- Priest). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
21) There were some eyebrows raised when John XXIII was elected pope. He was in his seventies and there was no great hope that he was going to shake the Church. One of the first things he did, however, made people sit up and notice. He went in person to visit prisoners in one of Rome’s prisons. He met them as equals and chatted informally with each. He even disclosed that he himself had a relative in jail! The work and short pontificate of this man was going to open many doors and set many prisoners free. (Jack McArdle in And That’s the Gospel Truth; quoted by Fr. Botelho). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) Money can buy a beautiful grave but not eternal life: There is a poem which talks about money written by Karl-Heinz Doll. I think this is application to Zacchaeus, — and to us especially. The poem runs this way:
“Money can buy bed but not sleep
Money can buy food but not appetite
Money can buy a house but not a home
Money can buy medicine but not health
Money can buy pleasure but not joy
Money can buy books but not wisdom
Money can buy style but not beauty
Money can buy contracts but not trustworthiness
Money can buy weapons but not peace
Money can buy bodyguards but not peace of heart
Money can buy a beautiful grave but not eternal life.”
Another author said: “Money is an article which may be used as universal passport to everywhere, except Heaven and as a universal provider of everything except happiness.” Just like some of us, Zacchaeus was thinking that to have more money would give him security and even happiness. Yes, we can love the money, but the money cannot love us in return. Money has no feeling. It has a callous nature. When Jesus touches Zacchaeus, the tax-collector makes a choice that he has to change his way of life. (Fr. Benitez). (Fr. Tony) C (No. 57) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ (or using Google Search) for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith“ Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only email@example.com. Click on http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text. for a full version Or https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony or under CBCI for my website version. (Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604).