October 30, 2010


31st Sunday - C
Luke 19: 1-10

The True Seeker

St. Luke describes Zacchaeus as one who "was seeking to see who Jesus was." As a resourceful person, he does all the could to fulfill his plan.

But it's not the physical obstacles alone that Zacchaeus overcomes in his seeking by running ahead and climbing a tree. He, a man of social status and authority, should never be running and climbing trees in public. In his seeking, he is willing to make himself the crowd's laughing stock. [1] He overcomes people's opinion and his pride to see Jesus.

In addition, Zacchaeus is willing to give away half of his wealth and to make up for any injustice he might have committed. Here, it is significant to note that he uses a conditional phrase, "if I have extorted (other translations use "cheated") anything from anyone." Does that mean he never cheats anyone intentionally? Whatever the case might be, he is seriously seeking not only to see Jesus, but to respond to Jesus' call to conversion.

Zacchaeus is a seeker.

However, it is Jesus, the Savior, who "has come to seek and to save" people like Zacchaeus. In fact, it is in God's plan of salvation of the whole human race that Jesus has come. As he tells Zacchaeus, "Today, I must stay at your house." There is a sense of a plan designed by God being accomplished here. (The same verb must is used by Luke elsewhere for the same theological point throughout his gospel, for example, Jesus' response to Joseph and Mary when they found him in the Temple at the age of 12 in 2:49, or in his prediction of his passion and death to the disciples in 9:22). [2]

Jesus is the true seeker.

So, it is important for us to seek and to overcome the various obstacles to find God in our lives. It is more important, however, to know that Jesus is the true seeker from God who "has come to seek and save what was lost."

[1] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings - Year C. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1991; p. 176.

[2] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 285.

31st Sunday - C (October 31, 2010)

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October 23, 2010


30th Sunday - C
Luke 18: 9-14

Prayer or Self-Promotion

This is the second parable on prayer that Jesus teaches in chapter 18 of the Gospel according to Luke.

"Jesus addresses" this second parable (verses 9-14) "to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everone else." There, we have the two key elements that make the Pharisee's words uttered in the temple not prayer but self-promotion.

The Pharisee tells God what he has accomplished. More accurately, he brags about what he thinks he has done on his own. There is no credit attributed to God.

Since he is not praying to God but bragging about himself, he ignores God and what God has done in his life. Instead of praying to God, he glances at and looks down upon the tax collector who "stands off at a distance."

Unlike the Pharisee who is full of himself, the tax collector knows and accepts that he is a sinner. He knows that God alone can forgive him. So he "stands off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven." He humbly "beats his breast and prays, 'O God, have mercy on me a sinner."

He goes home "justified." Note that Jesus puts the verb here in the passive voice.

Yes, "it is God who does the justifying." [1] And those who are full of "their own righteousness" have no room for God's mercy. Only those who know and acknowledge their sinfulness and God's boundless mercy have room for God in their lives.

Wonder with what attitude I have been praying lately.

[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 272.

30th Sunday - C (October 24, 2010)


Gustave Dore, the Pharisee and the Publican, found at http://www.doreillustrations.com

October 16, 2010


29th Sunday - C
Luke 18:1-8

Faith and Perseverance in Prayer

Most parables that Jesus tells use something positive from our human experience to relate to a similar aspect of God.

Today's parable is of a different kind. It is not a parable that compares similarities. Rather, it contrasts differences. More accurately, it uses the example of a corrupt and self-centered judge to draw the listeners to trust in their God who is just, generous and loving.

With this understanding in the background, St. Luke introduces the parable with the comment, "Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray without becoming weary."

This kind of perseverance presupposes the faith that Jesus asks for in his final question "When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

The parable, by contrating the judge and God, invites us to put faith in God who pours out his blessings even before we ask.

Therefore, it is more important that we should pray for the faith to recognize the blessings God already pours out on us than for the perseverance in praying for the things we want or ask for.

29th Sunday - C (October 17, 2010)

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October 9, 2010


28th Sunday - C
Luke 17: 11-19

The Content of Prayer

In this short passage, at least three different forms of prayer are mentioned: petition, thanksgiving, and praise.

The ten lepers make a prayer of petition asking Jesus to have pity on them.

Later, the Samaritan returns praising (glorifying) God and thanks Jesus.

Other common forms of prayer include prayers of blessing and intercession. We "bless God who is the source of every blessing." [1] And when we pray on behalf of others, we intercede for them (compared with petition as a prayer for oneself).

The outcast Samaritan leper, as Jesus points out, is a man of faith. His faith is shown in the fact that he knows how to pray. He becomes for us a model of one who puts his faith in God and nourishes that relationship through prayer.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2645.
Note: The Catechism has an entire section on various forms of prayer.

28th Sunday - C (October 10, 2010)

Image from Archdiocese of Washington blog http://blog.adw.org/tag/40-reasons/page/2/

October 2, 2010


27th Sunday - C
Luke 17: 5-10

When do We Ask the Lord, "Increase our Faith"?

For some time now (since chapter 9, verse 51; or 14 Sundays if we follow the Sunday gospel readings), the disciples of Jesus has been journing with him to Jerusalem, the journey to the cross.

They have experienced great success in the missions that Jesus sent them out to do. They returned and reported to Jesus, "Even the demons are subject to us because of your name." (10:17)

Jesus, in response, told them that their true blessing is more than that. In fact, they were seeing the things that prophets and kings wanted to see (10: 23-24) Moreover, their names are written in heaven (10:20).

They have also known people who want to follow Jesus but stopped short because of their various attachments to people or things (9: 57-62). Then there were those who rejected Jesus and his teaching, usually due to selfishness, self-righteousness, or pride.

At the same time, Jesus has been encouraging them and the other followers with the example of the Good Samaritan, his healing miracles, and his powerful teaching.

He also was straightforward with them in telling them that nothing should take God's place of priority in their lives (14: 25-30) and the danger facing those who allow the passing things of this world to replace God (the parable of the rich person whose only concern is what to do with his wealth and forgets that life does not belong to him). In addition, the disciples' way to the kingdom is through the narrow gate.

Finally, Jesus has taught them how to pray and urged them to have faith in God (11: 1-13). He also affirmed them of God's incredible love for humanity with the "parables of the lost and found" [1] (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the father and the two sons).

And Jesus gives the disciples the mission to "set the earth on fire" with him inspite of the rejection they might face (12: 49-53). Together, they are called to serve the like of Lazarus who cannot return the favor (14: 7-14, 16:19:31).

The disciples are humans with shortcomings and weaknesses. Reality of life is challenging. Yet, their mission is awesome. And the blessings are incredible. Is it the awareness of who they are in the face of all of these enable them to ask the Lord to increase their faith?

When do we ask the Lord most sincerely to increase our faith?

[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 234.

27th Sunday - C (October 3, 2010)

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