October 29, 2010

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Wisdom provides this weekend’s first reading.

An essential component in ancient Hebrew belief—and in contemporary Jewish thought as well—is that God is the Creator of all and the author of all life.

For this reason, there is so much respect for natural life and for the processes of nature.

It should be recalled that Wisdom was written in a world that was highly influenced by Greek philosophy.

Surrounding Greek philosophy was Greek mythology, which saw gods and goddesses as beings within nature.

The Greeks believed that their gods had control over nature, but that they could exercise their control in ways which were not necessarily kind to humanity.

Furthermore, humans could use or misuse nature and the things of nature in this Greek world.

Wisdom called pious Jews living among the Greeks to remember their own ancient outlook on natural life.

For the second reading, the Church gives us a passage from St. Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

While the nature within which humans live while on Earth is God’s loving and marvelous gift, the greatest of God’s gifts to us is Jesus. The Lord became human, as are we, in the mystery called by the Church the Incarnation.

Through the Incarnation, through the redemption accomplished by Jesus on Calvary and in the Resurrection, and by accepting God’s gift of faith, we gain the supreme result of possessing the gift of Jesus. We gain life eternal with God.

Constantly, St. Paul in his epistles summoned Christians, such as the faithful in Thessalonica, to realize and appreciate the wonder and greatness of God’s gift of Jesus.

Quite realistically, St. Paul, in this reading in particular, reminds believers that the path through life with God is rough and crooked, often beset with dangers and alluring detours. We must be resolute in our determination to be with God.

For the last reading this weekend, the Church gives us a selection from St. Luke’s Gospel.

The Lord is on the way Jericho, an ancient city not far from the Dead Sea, which is mentioned in several dramatic Old Testament passages.

It is a city at the foot of the great Judean Mountains, and known as a virtual oasis in a stark and lifeless terrain.

It was a place of security in the otherwise forbidding Jordan River valley and Judaean wilderness. However, in truth, Jericho offered no enduring security for the people.

Zaccaeus was wealthy, but Luke’s Gospel sees wealth as a burden. The poor are closer to God. They are unencumbered by possessions.

Additionally, Zaccaeus was a tax collector, a disgusting occupation among the Jews. Nevertheless, Jesus, the Lord of life, freed Zacchaeus from the heavy burden of his sin and gave him life, which was genuine security.

By climbing the tree to see Jesus better, Zacchaeus teaches us two important lessons.

Despite all his wealth, he was subject to the simple obstacles confronting everyone, namely the inability to see through or over others. Zacchaeus desperately wanted to see Jesus because he realized that wealth offered him no lasting satisfaction.


In just a few weeks, the Church will close its liturgical year. On the following weekend, it will lead us into a new year of worship and reflection.

But before the start of the new liturgical year, the Church will call us to close this present year in a mood that is profoundly hopeful and thankful.

Hopefully, in Jesus, we have found what Zaccheus sought. Our life and our security are in Jesus. When we have found Jesus, we have hope and we give thanks because we are one with God in Jesus.

The key to finding Jesus is in giving ourselves to him without compromise and without pause. Our union with the Lord must be as if Jesus is our king.

This weekend’s readings point us toward the feast of Christ the King, the Church’s great celebration closing this liturgical year, which is celebrated on Nov. 21. †

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