October 28, 2022

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Wisdom provides the first reading for Mass this weekend.

As the natural environment has absorbed more and more public interest, the pope and other agencies of the Church have addressed the problems of exploiting nature. This reading, while composed many centuries ago, states the underlying principle in the Church’s current teaching regarding respect for the environment.

This principle is that God is the creator of all and the author of all life. It should be recalled that the Book of Wisdom was written in a world highly influenced by Greek philosophy that saw gods and goddesses as being within nature. Jews understood God’s supremacy over nature and saw nature as God’s gift to all people, its vitality critically necessary.

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

The natural environment in which humans live while on Earth is marvelous. As God’s loving gift, it is a means to an end, eternal life, to which God calls us. Most of all, God gives us Jesus to guide us. The Lord became human, as are we, bonding with us, in the mystery of the incarnation. Jesus redeemed us on Calvary. In the Lord, we find the way to eternity.

On our journey, we are called to wisely utilize all of God’s merciful gifts, protecting and revering them, for ourselves and unselfishly securing them for others now and in future generations.

The Pauline epistles summoned Christians, such as the faithful in Thessalonica, the modern Greek city of Saloniki, to realize the wonder and greatness of God’s great gift of Jesus.

Paul in his letters never leads anyone down a primrose path. Including this passage, he always reminds believers that the path through life, following Jesus, is rough, uphill and crooked, beset with dangers and detours, attractive but dangerous. To reach our goal, we must remain on the straight and narrow.

For its last reading, the Church gives us a story from St. Luke’s Gospel about the Lord on the way to Jericho, an ancient city near the Dead Sea, mentioned in several Old Testament passages. Jericho was, and is, a city seated at the foot of the forbidding Judean mountains, a virtual oasis in a stark and lifeless terrain.

While Jericho offered security to many, as it offers security still, only Jesus truly brings life and security

Zacchaeus was wealthy, but his wealth was a burden. People loathed him because he was a tax collector. Tax collectors worked for the detested Romans, and the system made tax collectors little better than legalized thieves. Taxes funded Roman oppression, making life miserable for the Jews, Zacchaeus’ own people.

Nevertheless, Jesus, the Lord of life, saw Zacchaeus, despite everything, as a gift from God, worthy of his mercy.

Zacchaeus climbing a tree to see Jesus

teaches two important lessons. Despite his wealth, he was subject to the simple, inevitable obstacles confronting everyone, namely the inability to see through others. Secondly, Zacchaeus desperately wanted to see Jesus. Material wealth brought him no lasting satisfaction.


In a few weeks, the Church will close this liturgical year. Then, through the liturgy, the Church will lead us into a new year of worship and reflection. Before then, it will call us to close this year profoundly hopeful and thankful.

We have hope. We give thanks, because we possess Jesus, God’s wondrous gift to us, the most precious of God’s many gifts to us. But God gives us many gifts to brighten our lives on Earth and lead us to heaven.

This weekend’s reading anticipates the feast of Christ the King, the great celebration closing this year. God loves us. He has provided for us the way to peace and joy. He is abundantly generous and merciful. †

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