Sunday, October 31, 2010

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings for October 31, 2010, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time 2010:

31st Sunday 2010

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
October 31, 2010

The question for today, who am I? Who are you? I've been doing something with young people of late, that could very well be good for all of us. I will have them stand in front of a full length mirror and then have them say, "Lord, God, You made me in your image and likeness, to know You, to Love you, to Serve You and to be happy with You forever in heaven." If each morning you start the day with this statement of fact and then add a private prayer you have the best start of the day while knowing yourself, and who you are in Christ Jesus! Our first reading reaffirms this knowledge when it says, "For You Love all things that are and loathe nothing that You have made." Oh!, by the way this is the real self esteem.

A story:
Quit a number of years ago, now, I had gone to Steubenville for a workshop on the teaching of religion. For the most part everything went well until we come to this one room that was to help us relate to the children and before long we were into self esteem. Well, I'm not the brightest light in the room, but I've been around for a while and had taught for some time and am a father of seven and this just is not going very well. This sounded very much like the new trinity, me, myself and I. Finally I raised my hand and said, "I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but all you are doing is producing self-centered, selfish, spoiled brats!" No more was said and the subject was changed. As we were walking out a lady grabbed me and said, "You don't know how true were your words!" I said, Oh yes I do! She told me that her little daughter would come home from school and would order her around and if she didn't obey, say she was hurting her self-esteem. As I said earlier you don't have to be the brightest light to know this is not right. Not to down-play the value of each child in the family - for each are the image and likeness of God, but order must be kept. Children must be obedient to parents, as parents are obedient to Christ and His Church.

So who am I, who are you? How do we help each other to grow in the Love of God and neighbor. Maybe the Zacchaeus story can help. Maybe we need to learn acceptance, to Love the sinner, not the sin. Being we are all sinners that shouldn't be that hard, but at times it must be.

You remember how we say names mean something! Zacchaeus mains "pure one" or "righteous one." There must have been interest on the part of Zacchaeus for he climbed a tree to see Jesus! Maybe he was looking for answers in his own life, maybe even feed up with the self-centered greed and dishonesty. Still, Jesus said or did exactly what Zacchaeus needed. If Jesus had squared off against him, if Jesus had confronted his dishonesty and exploitation, if Jesus had condemned him, how would Jesus have been any different from anybody else? Is there any doubt but that Jesus accepted him as he was? Here was a good person, from God, accepting Zacchaeus.

There is a bit of irony here. Zacchaeus had a terrible reputation as a sinner and apparently it was deserved. Jesus was criticized by the religious officials, because he "ate and drank" with sinners. If the religious leaders are too righteous to associate with sinners, if all they have for someone like Zacchaeus is condemnation, what hope is there for Zacchaeus and other sinners? There is a stalemate between the righteous and the unrighteous. What is wrong here? Actually, the stalemate is between two groups of sinners: sinners-who-deny-they-are-sinners and sinners-who-know-they-are-sinners. Someone from God must come who is willing to associate with sinners, someone who understands that accepting the sinner does not mean accepting the sin, some one who knows how powerful love can be in transforming lives.

They grumbled, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." Zacchaeus' meeting with Jesus transformed his life for he stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four time over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

Stand in front of that mirror and know that God Loves you with an Infinite Love and He wants you to spend Eternity with Him in Heaven! Eye has not seen or the ear heard or the mind of man conceived what God has prepared for those who Love Him!
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.
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