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The Effort of Zacchaeus

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When I was a young boy, I had a book that I used to love to bring to Mass. It was the story of Zacchaeus. I must have read that story a hundred times. I found it fascinating that this short guy would climb a tree to see Jesus.

When I read it again today, through the eyes of an adult, I hear Jesus speaking to us about conversion and discipleship in “Eucharistic” ways. Consider what it takes to attend Sunday Mass. Yes, for some of us it takes little effort. For some, maybe it's a little more difficult. It surely takes the effort of Zacchaeus climbing a tree for families with little ones to make it to Mass on Sunday. It takes the effort of Zacchaeus fighting the crowds, for an elderly couple, or for one who has worked many hours during the week and would rather spend a few hours relaxing.

But, they come to Mass. Why? Because we know that the Eucharist changes lives. At each Mass, Jesus invites himself to our home - our very being, just as he did to Zacchaeus. When we receive him and welcome him into our heart - our home, with great joy we can allow ourselves to be changed. Zacchaeus was a sinner, just as we all are sinners. Through the healing power of the Eucharist, we find strength for conversion. Like Zacchaeus of old, we can become disciples to the poor and those in need through our conversion. So, whether you climb a tree, fight crowds or not, know that salvation can come to your house - not by any merit of your own, but through the power of the Eucharist - the Son of Man, who has come to seek and to save.

All In!

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“If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” ~Luke 14:26

Did Jesus just say that? Has the Lord become an advocate of hate? Hate my wife and children? I think what Jesus is trying to teach us is the cost of true discipleship. A few chapters later in Luke’s gospel (18:18), a wealthy official asks Jesus what he must do to inherit the kingdom. Jesus tells him to sell what he owns and give to the poor, and then follow him. Perhaps what Jesus is saying is that true discipleship is difficult if one is significantly bound to the things of this world. If we are tied to earthly things we cannot fully take up the cross of discipleship. It’s not that Jesus wants us to abandon our families, but rather to make Him a priority in our life. He wants us to be “all-in” in this discipleship thing. Unlike the wealthy official, let us not sadly walk away from the Lord because of our love of the transitory things of the world. Let’s cling to the cross and walk the road to a more perfect discipleship. Let’s be ALL IN!

The Image of God

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I am sure you have seen the people who stand near the freeway ramps with various signs saying, “Homeless,” or “hungry,” or even, “I’m a vet.”

I know many times I see these people and wonder, “What’s their story?” Sadly, in my cynicism, I simply drive past, or to make things more uncomfortable for me, I have to stop at the light, and I do everything in my power not to make eye contact!

Often when I see them, I think of the story of the Good Samaritan. In the gospel, when Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He goes on to tell the story of the man who was robbed and left critically injured.

So, who is MY neighbor? Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor in theory should be easy, but it is often very difficult.

This gospel is perhaps a wake-up call for me to reflect on who is my neighbor.

  • Is it the elderly person struggling in the supermarket that I could help?
  • Is it the driver I let merge into my lane in traffic?
  • Is it the person walking down street who I nod or smile at when I pass?
  • Is it the person with the sign near the freeway?

Am I loving them as myself? Am I seeing them as the image of God in which they were created?

Some interesting and weighty questions.  Who’s YOUR neighbor?

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