Sunday, October 30, 2016

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time: He Wants to Stay In Your Place

Before I get to today's reflection, I want to ask you for help. As many of you know, I started this site years ago and began with only 12 views. From there, this site has exploded with nearly a million views, a radio podcast and broadcast on You Tube. I noticed the hunger out there for God, especially from those outside of the Catholic Church. I believe the Lord is calling me and others to "go out into the deep" and "fish" for these souls. In order to do this, I need to expand this work and this costs money. I need to
continually renew the domain names I use, purchase equipment to keep the broadcasts as up
to date and professional as possible and need to pay for subscriptions in order to expand radio podcast hours. Moreover, I want to form an apostolate focused on reaching lapsed Catholics and those outside of the Church who may have been alienated. In order to do this, I will need to hire a lawyer to help with the legal documentation in order to trademark the apostolate and form it into a legal entity allowing for tax deductions for donators. I ask you to please help me raise about $35,000 in order to begin the process.  Please donate at God will truly reward you for this effort. Be like Zacchaeus in today's reading and give away your possessions in order to help others spread the faith and care for souls.


Today's readings remind us that while God is bigger than the universe, He is not far from us or untouchable. The first reading reminds us that the universe is just a grain on a balance before God.
Those of you who studied astronomy know that the universe is extremely large. In fact, recently, astronomers have declared that there are more galaxies in the universe than previously thought. We with our technologies have barely scratched the surface, so to speak, on how big the universe really is. It may be eternal or may have a "wall" or end. We just do not know. The fact that this beautiful thing we call "the universe" exists is testament to how much bigger its creator is.  Despite the awesomeness of the creator, He is not far away (Acts 17:27, Jeremiah 23:23).  He is not an impersonal creator as deists believe. God looks upon all with mercy. This is because God can do all things (Luke 18:27). Sin, suffering and even death are not an obstacle to God. We who are the created panic when we see evil in the world.  This is because we are finite creatures.  We only see the limited, not the infinite.  God loves all things and does not hate anything or anyone. Those who go around speaking for God claiming that He hates Gays, Muslims, other Christians and so on are mistaken. God loves all.  He loves all so much that He sent His only son to die a horrible death in order to redeem the world (John 3:16). God truly loves all of us.  He will us to existence, as the reading tells us.

Despite our wrongdoings, He spares us and waits for us to turn back to Him. God warns us about our sins and redirects us. We must be aware of this in our spiritual lives.  This will bring us to praise God's name for ever as the responsorial Psalm tells us. God is our king and also our father.  He loves each of us and knows each of us by name. We must bless Him and praise His name. We must be thankful to God always. In all He does, He is compassionate and loving.  God is not a liar. He always keeps His promises. We must remain faithful even if we feel God is far away, which He is not. We must ask God to make us worthy of His calling, as the second reading reminds us.  Only God can direct our paths and perfect them. With His grace, we can fulfill whatever good purpose He calls us to.  Every effort of faith is perfected in Him, now ourselves. While we do cooperate in grace, it is ultimately God who is justifying us. We must try our bes to live holy lives that glorifies the name of Jesus. Our lives must reflect to others Christ.

Lastly, in today's Gospel, we read of the tax collector named Zacchaeus who was short in stature. He wanted to see Jesus, but could not for this very reason. Zacchaeus climbs a sycamore tree in order to be able to see Jesus. As Jesus passed, He sees Zacchaeus and tells him to come down because He is staying at his place. Can you imagine this? Imagine if Christ sees you and tells you He is staying at your place! Would this not be so awesome?  Well guess what! He does this every day. Christ tells us that He wants to stay in our place, the heart. He waits for us in the Blessed Sacrament. Zacchaeus I can imagine was a bit confused. He probably wondered why Jesus chose him out of the many others. This was because Zacchaeus did everything possible to "see" Jesus. He climbed an obstacle. Jesus
notices this. We today are like Zacchaeus who climb every obstacle in our lives in order to see Christ. When we do this, Christ notices us and makes a place for Himself at our home, the heart. Now, there will be those people who will criticize us when we get closer to God. In the Gospel, we read of those who went to see Jesus who were upset that Jesus paid more attention to Zacchaeus, a tax collector who was hated for doing his job. Even today, the tax collector is not a welcomed person. Those who pay taxes to the IRS or any other government tax agency know very well how tax employees are disliked. Despite this,Christ loved Zacchaeus. Christ is not prejudice. Moreover, Zacchaeus was overjoyed that Christ wanted to go to his home. Despite being a sinner and hated by the crowd, Jesus wanted to spend time with him. Christ goes after those who are pariahs in society. The sinner is not far from God despite his or her sins. Christ waits for him or her to invite him to his or her home. Zacchaeus offers half of his goods to the poor. He shows the change he made after realizing that Christ wanted to go to his home. He turns around and offers to repay four times what he took from others. Jesus sees this and tells him that salvation hascome to his home. The story of Zachaeus should remind us of our spiritual lives. We must not feel like God is impossible to reach. He may be bigger than the universe, but not impossible to reach. Like Zacchaeus, we must climb obstacles to see Him and let Him come inside to our home, the heart. However, this is not all. We must make the necessary changes in order to obtain salvation "in our home." St. Augustine tells us, "The Lord, who had already welcomed Zacchaeus in his heart, was now ready to be welcomed by him in his house. He said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry up and come down, since I have to stay in your house.' He thought it was a marvelous piece of good luck to see Christ. While imagining it was a marvelous piece of luck quite beyond words to see him passing by, he was suddenly found worthy to have him in his house. Grace is poured out, and faith starts working through love. Christ, who was already dwelling in his heart, is welcomed into his house.  Zacchaeus says to Christ, 'Lord, half my goods I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone of anything, I am paying back four times over." It is as if he were saying, "The reason I am keeping back half for myself is not in order to have it, but to have something from which to pay people back.' There you are. That is really what welcoming Jesus means, welcoming him into your heart. Christ was already there. He was in Zacchaeus and spoke through him. The apostle says that this is what it means, 'For Christ to dwell by faith in your hearts.' ("Sermon 174.5", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)

We must invite God in and allow Him to enter, no questions asked. We must not shut ourselves to christ, even in difficult times. Changing out lives and becoming detached are important. We must be willing to let go of even our possessions for the sake of Christ. This is why I invest a lot on bringing the Gospel to others, especially those outside of the Church and why I ask my readers to become benefactors and help me expand this evangelization work. We can use money to please ourselves or we can use it to please God and spread the Gospel. Which is more important? St. Jerome tells us, "There certainly is much truth in a certain saying of a philosopher, 'Every rich man is either wicked or the heir of wickedness.' That is why the Lord and Savior says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Someone may raise the objection, 'How did wealthy Zacchaeus enter the kingdom of heaven?' He gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the riches of the heavenly kingdom. The Lord and Savior did not say that the rich would not enter the kingdom of heaven but that they will enter with difficulty. ("Homily on Psalm 83", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 290.)"  Having possessions or wealth in itself is not bad. As St. Maximus of
Turin tells us, "Zacchaeus must be praised. His riches were unable to keep him from the royal threshold. He should be greatly praised because his riches brought him to the threshold of the kingdom. From this, we understand that wealth is not a hindrance but a help to attaining the glory of Christ. While we possess it, we should not squander it on wild living but give it away for the sake of salvation. There is no crime in possessions, but there is crime in those who do not know how to use possessions. For the foolish, wealth is a temptation to vice, but for the wise, it is a help to virtue. Some receive an opportunity for salvation, but others acquire an obstacle of condemnation ("Sermons 95-96", quoted in Arthur A. Just, ed., Luke, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers
Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.)." We must make use of our wealth to serve God and others. Storing up wealth on earth just for the sake of storing is problematic. When we die, we do not carry our checkbooks with us nor our safes. These stay on earth for others to enjoy. If we use our wealth to serve God and others, we will demonstrate that resolve to change just like Zacchaeus. This is why I ask you to please be generous and help me raise the funds necessary to truly expand this evangelization work. This work serves God and others. God will reward you for being generous. Remember that you are not held back from approaching God. Climb the sycamores in your life and allow Christ to visit your home. Be generous and let go of material wealth for the sake of the faith. May Jesus Christ be praised.


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