31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle C

1st Reading  – Wisdom 11: 22 – 12: 2

This reading, actually a poem, echoes our opening prayer and psalm.  It was a popularly held belief that the book was written by Solomon, but the author does remain anonymous.  The most we know is he was a learned, Greek-speaking Jew and probably a teacher, and he was familiar with Hellensitic  philosophy, rhetoric and culture .

The word love is used as a verb, an action word.  God continually creates us anew, preserves us and forgives us.   (M. Birmingham, Word and Worship Workbook,C, 517-8).

What is most mysterious is God’s superabundant life pouring itself forth, the love of God who gives and gives again but is never emptied in the giving.  This self-giving is at the very heart of who God is   (M. Downey, Altogether Gift, p. 43).  How do you experience God’s love in your life?

2nd  Reading – 2 Thessalonians 1: 11- 2:2

This is another letter that is questionable whether Paul actually wrote someone writing as Paul.  Either way, there is truth in the letter.  The people of Thessalonica (the capital city for the Roman province of Macedonia) are being told that they are being prayed for and not to be fooled by anyone saying they know when the second coming will be.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you are being prayed for?  Pope Francis recently said, “Without love, effort becomes a lot heavier.”  Praying for others is an act of love.

We must be diligent in living the Christian life…be watchful and alert.   During that time, everyone thought Jesus was coming back any minute.  This was to the point where they were just waiting around and not doing anything!  Paul was saying cut it out.  There’s still a lot to do, so get busy doing it.  (Birmingham, W&W, p. 519).  How can this reading be good for us today?

Gospel Reading – Luke 19: 1-10

Here we have story of Zacchaeus (zuh-KEE-uhs, not zuh-KAY-us).  This story is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  This is Jesus’ last encounter  before he enters Jerusalem.

Remember: Welcoming another into one’s home to share at table was an act of profound friendship.  Meals were sacred times reserved only for close friends and family. Yet, one of the most historical ‘facts’ that we know about Jesus is that he often ate with sinners and the outcasts of society. When Jesus tells Zacchaeus that he is coming to dinner, the offer is clear. Jesus is asking him for his friendship.  And, Zacchaeus responds by changing his way of doing business – and his way of living. Such generosity delights Jesus for he knows that now salvation (full health and life) has come to Zacchaeus’ whole house.(R. Fuller, “Scripture in Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu ; Celebrations Oct., 2004)

From “Working with the Word” http://liturgy.slu.edu :

We sometimes tend to think that we need to repent and then God will come to us. But the gospel would suggest that just the opposite is true: Jesus comes to Zacchaeus who then responds by repenting. We do not repent so that God will give us his grace; God’s grace is a free gift. We just need to be open to receiving this grace so that we can repent.

William Barclay tells us to notice that the gospel ends with the encouraging words: “For the Son of Man (the Human One) came to seek out and to save the lost.”  The word lost in the New Testament does not mean damned or doomed. It merely means in the wrong place. A thing is lost when it has got out of its own place into the wrong place . . . A person is lost when he or she wanders away from God. To come back into a right relationship with God is a cause for rejoicing and new life.    (p. 245, The Gospel of Luke)

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