31 Sunday C - Zacchaeus - Homilies

From Tony De Mello:

A basic ingredient in the attainment of freedom: adversity that brings awareness. A traveller lost in the desert despaired of ever finding water. He struggled up one hilltop, then another and another in the hope of sighting a stream somewhere. He kept looking in every direction with no success.
As he staggered onwards his foot caught on a dry bush and he stumbled to the ground. That’s where he laid, with no energy even to rise, no desire to struggle any more, no hope of surviving this ordeal.
As he lay there, helpless and dejected, he suddenly became aware of the silence of the desert. On all sides a majestic stillness reigned, undisturbed by the slightest sound. Suddenly he raised his head. He had heard something. Something so faint that only the sharpest ear and the deepest silence would lead to its detection: the sound of running water.
Heartened by the hope that the sound aroused in him, he rose and kept moving till he arrived at a stream of fresh, cool water.

Thomas O’Loughlin

Is there a more memorable scene in the whole gospel than that of the little man Zacchaeus climbing a tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus? Then despite Zacchaeus being the outcast in the community, Jesus choosing to have supper with him. The Lord has come among us today, coming to seek and save, and calling us to share his supper now in this sacred banquet. Let us focus our minds on our need to be forgiven, our need to begin afresh, and that we are gathered around the Lord’s table.


SALVATION - Illustrations

The Romans' Road  to Salvation. Romans: 3:23, 6:23; 5:8; 10:9, 10, 13.

During the Spanish-American War, Clara Barton was overseeing the work of the Red Cross in Cuba. One day Colonel Theodore Roosevelt came to her, wanted to buy food for his sick and wounded Rough Riders. But she refused to sell him any. Roosevelt was perplexed. His men needed the help and he was prepared to pay out of his own funds. When he asked someone why he could not buy the supplies, he was told, "Colonel, just ask for it!" A smile broke over Roosevelt's face. Now he understood--the provisions were not for sale. All he had to do was simply ask and they would be given freely.
Our Daily Bread, October 11, 1992.

PRIDE - Illustrations

Golf immortal Arnold Palmer recalls a lesson about overconfidence:
It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament, and I had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a very satisfying tee shot. I felt I was in pretty good shape. As I approached my ball, I saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned me over, stuck out his hand and said, Congratulations." I took his hand and shook it, but as soon as I did, I knew I had lost my focus. On my next two shots, I hit the ball into a sand trap, then put it over the edge of the green. I missed a putt and lost the Masters. You don't forget a mistake like that; you just learnfrom it and become determined that you will never do that again. I haven't in the 30 years since.
Carol Mann, The 19th Hold,  Longmeadow.

During the Battle of the Wilderness in the Civil War, Union general John Sedgwick was inspecting his troops. At one point he came to a parapet, over which he gazed out in the direction of the enemy. His officers suggested that this was unwise and perhaps he ought to duck while passing the parapet. "Nonsense," snapped the general. "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist--." A moment later Sedgwick fell to the ground, fatally wounded.
Today in the Word, August 30, 1993.

HUMILITY - Illustrations

A truly humble man is hard to find, yet God delights to honor such selfless people. Booker T. Washington, the renowned black educator, was an outstanding example of this truth. Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when he was stopped by a wealthy white woman. Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested. When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.
The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the Institute and apologized profusely. "It's perfectly all right, Madam," he replied. "Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor. Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend." She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart. Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.
Our Daily Bread.

30 Sunday C -Humility-Homilies

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
Today we are going to reflect on self-knowledge and humility. By gathering here in public we are telling the world that we take the need to profess faith in God seriously; we are saying we are people with a definite way of life, that we have taken up the cross of discipleship. But without humble awareness of our faults and our need of God’s mercy, we could be deceiving ourselves. Let us ask the Spirit to enlighten our minds that we might know our failings, and to give us the humility to ask for mercy.
Michel de Verteuil
General Textual comments

General Comments
This Sunday’s gospel reading is in three sections
- verse 9, introduction to the parable
- verses 10 –14a, the parable
- verse 14b, general saying of Jesus.
As always with gospel passages we are free either to focus on the sections independently or to see the connection between them so that each one serves as a guide for interpreting the others.

PRAYER - Illustrations

The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.
C.S. Lewis

He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day.
John Bunyan

The fewer the words, the better the prayer. To have prayed well is to have studied well.
Martin Luther

PERSEVERANCE - Illustrations

Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: "Unless the divine power has raised you up... I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might."
Daily Bread, June 16, 1989.

29 Sunday C - Persistence - Homilies

The persistent widow in our midst

It may be a spouse’s Parkinson’s disease, a parent’s Alzheimer’s, a sister’s breast cancer, a child’s leukemia.  The illness of a loved one, a catastrophe striking their family, the suffering of someone dear to them transforms these moms and dads and sons and daughters and friends into dedicated advocates and determined guardians.

 They fight hospitals and insurance companies for the critical medical care needed by their loved one.  They take on the most obstinate bureaucracies for the assistance and services their child is entitled to but denied.  They work tirelessly to raise awareness, raise money, and, when necessary, raise Cain, so that their loved one may live as fully a life as possible, so that a cure might be found, so that other families will not have to experience the pain and anguish they have known.

These dedicated men and women are the Gospel widow in our midst.  They face down the “dishonest judges” of arrogance and avarice; they take on the “fearful judges” of insensitivity and unawareness; they go toe-to-toe with the “judges who fear neither God nor respect any human being,” save themselves.

Brain Teasers - Try some

Something to think about

CHURCH has 6 letters, so does MOSQUE.

BIBLE has 5 letters, so does QURAN.
LIFE has 4 letters, so does DEAD.
LOVE has 4 letters, so does HATE.
FRIENDS has 7, so does ENEMIES.
TRUTH has 5, so does LYING.
HEAL has 4, so does HURT.
POSITIVE has 8, so does NEGATIVE.
SUCCESS has 7, so does FAILURE.
ABOVE has 5, so does UNDER.
JOY has 3 letters so does CRY.
HAPPY has 5 letters so does ANGER.
RIGHT has 5 letters so does WRONG.
Are they by coincidence?
Choose wisely.
This means LIFE is like a double-edged sword.
We should choose the better side of Life!


It is said that on his retreat from Greece after his great military expedition there, King Xerxes boarded a Phoenician ship along with a number of his Persian troops. But a fearful storm came up, and the captain told Xerxes there was no hope unless the ship's load was substantially lightened. The king turned to his fellow Persians on deck and said, "It is on you that my safety depends. Now let some of you show your regard for your king." A number of the men bowed to Xerxes and threw themselves overboard!
Lightened of its load, the ship made it safely to harbor. Xerxes immediately ordered that a golden crown be given to the pilot for preserving the king's life -- then ordered the man beheaded for causing the loss of so many Persian lives!
Today in the Word, July 11, 1993.

Mother Teresa and Dr. Lombardi -Interesting Video

28 Sunday C -10 Lepers - Homilies

Almost every age has had its social outcasts, people barred from normal society whether through physical illness or national origin. One person who stepped across these barriers in India was pioneer missionary Mary Reed. Already working in India, Mary visited a leper colony and was deeply moved by the people's plight. Later Mary contracted leprosy herself and went to work with the lepers, eager to tell them that she knew firsthand their pain and trauma. She became head of the leper colony she had visited, and in the years following many were saved and a church built. Mary retired at the age of eighty-four after many years of faithful service to these social outcasts. 
Today in the Word, January, 1990, p. 24.

Once upon a time there was a man who was struck down in his early thirties who was diagnosed with  brain cancer. He had a wife and young children and a promising career. Suddenly all of that was swept away from him. He could barely talk or walk. He was in constant agony. His friends and his family, except for his wife and mother, avoided him. The doctors shook their head. It was too bad. He was a nice man and deserved longer life. But there was nothing they could.

At last he went to a very famous doctor who offered to operate on him, even though everyone else said the tumor was inoperable. The doctor warned the patient and his wife that he could very well die during the operation, though he (the doctor) was pretty sure that he would survive and return to health. They decided that they should take the risk.  

After nine hours of surgery, the doctor came into the waiting room, grinned at the man’s wife and said, “Got it!” The man recovered and went on to a happy and successful life. Twenty years later the surgeon died. We should go to the wake, the patient’s wife said. I’d like to, her husband replied. But it’s on the weekend and I have an important golf tournament. 

Andrew Greeley 

Does Everyone Do That?   

The story is told of a farmer who went into town for a little breakfast. As his meal was set before him, he bowed his head and offered a silent prayer. The man at the next table derided him, "Hey, does everybody do that where you come from?" "No," said the farmer. "The pigs don't."  

 Frank Lyman

Faith - Quotes and Stories

Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand.

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand. 
Thomas Aquinas.

Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.
William Booth in The Founder's Messages to Soldiers, Christianity Today, October 5, 1992, p. 48.

FAITHFULNESS - Quotes and Stories

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.
A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.
As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- "Semper Fi" the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful.
J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990, pp. 187-188.

27 Sunday C - Faith and Responsibility - Homilies

Video Messages at the Bottom: One for 27th Sunday and the other for Pro-Life Sunday
The Church works best we are advised when we see ourselves not as spectators but as participants.

Arthur Tonne tells about the seventeenth century St Francis de Sales. As a young man, Francis was seriously ill. It was felt certain he would die. He begged his professor, "Sir, arrange my funeral as you see fit. I only ask that after my funeral you give my body to medical students." The professor demurred.  Bur de Sales persisted. "It is very consoling to me, as I lie dying," said Francis, "to think that if I have been a useless servant during life, I will be of some good after death."

Incidentally, it would be wonderful if we were useful in life and also after our deaths. Why not copy the style of de Sales? We need not be as generous as the saint. We can give our families the consolation of burying our bodies in the family plot. But why not make provisions now to donate our organs after death? Why not enjoy two resurrections? The auto decal correctly instructs us, "Heaven knows we need your organs here."

I have already made arrangements. In New York State, it is a very simple matter. One signs the back of a Driver License in the presence of a witness. Why not today find out what the law is in your own state? Surely, by the time the second resurrection of our respective bodies comes about, God will have figured some way to put us all back together again. In the meantime, we shall hear from a smiling Christ, "Well done, good and useful servant."