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Pastor's Letter 20221030 - 30 October 2022 - The Lord is Gracious and Merciful

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October 30th, 2022


31st Sunday in Ordinary Time


“Zacchaeus, come down from the tree.”

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:

“The Lord is Gracious

And Merciful”

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

(Wisdom 11:22-12:2)  The Wise and loving concern with which God created the universe is the same wise and loving concern that waits patiently for sinners to repent.  True wisdom does not judge and condemn—but understands and forgives.

 Our First Reading, was attributed to Solomon, (Israel’s 10th Century B.C. king, and most noted sage.)  In a lengthy treatment of God’s power and mercy, it stresses that He is omnipotent; and because He is all-powerful, He is merciful.  It makes the point that God spares humankind because He loves us—God’s relationship with everything that He has created can only be one of love and mercy.  Only love can explain His continued preservation of us.  God does not desire our destruction or death, but is always ready to pardon our sins, desiring only that we repent and return to Him.  


(2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2)  One day, all who persevere in faith will be welcomed to join God for all eternity.  Concurrently, if we righteously live each day as if it were our last, then we shall prepare a worthy welcome for the Lord, when He comes again.

Paul, preaching in Thessalonica ca. 49 A.D., intended that the “Word of the Lord” would echo forth, resoundingly, throughout all the earth.  Our Second Reading, today, was written in response to the teaching that the “Day of the Lord,” had already occurred, purported by false teachers and “Gnostics” (Those who believed all revelation could be “known” through human reason.)  He urged his followers to be diligent to their call to the faith, in order for them to be properly prepared for “The Day” yet to come; and in their attentive efforts, they would become ever-more worthy of God’s gift of salvation.


(Luke 19:1-10)  God’s loving concern for his creation, mankind, seeks out the lost and makes them welcome in His Kingdom.  If one day “Salvation” knocked at our door, would we recognize and welcome him?

Our Gospel today presents yet another lesson, unique to, Luke, about the tax-collector Zacchaeus, and his resultant salvation through the agency of Jesus.  Jesus’ declaration, “Today salvation has come to this house” confirmed the integrity of Zacchaeus’ conversion, and the quality of his faith. 

In Jesus, Zacchaeus had met and experienced the saving power of God.  He humbly showed himself to be a true son of Abraham, and an heir to all the promises God had made to the patriarch.  Jesus has become tangible evidence for which God searches and saves the lost.  Likewise, we are challenged to do whatever is necessary to welcome “Salvation” into our hearts.

Conversion of Heart

The world, and all it contains, is like a grain of sand compared with the greatness of God.  Yet God loves everything and everyone that He has created, and offers all sinners ample opportunities to repent.  

Zacchaeus not only discovered what Jesus “looked like”—from his vantage point in the Sycamore tree—but gleaned a face-to-face encounter with our Blessed Lord when he welcomed Him to dinner in his home.  He discovered what was in Jesus’ heart, and in turn, experienced a “melting” of his own heart.  He turned his life away from his usurious ways, and became refreshed, like a desert landscape after a rainfall.  

Such a conversion was not intellectual, but rather, it was “heartfelt”—perhaps the most important conversion of all.  Fear can’t produce such an overwhelming turnabout; only an encounter with love can do that.  

The central issue for us is how we can have a change of heart and learn to love one another.  There has to be a “touching,” a “softening,” a “moving” of the heart, which leads to an “opening,” and finally a “sharing” of our heart’s riches.  A harsh approach to life 2causes just the opposite effect—hardening and closure.  We must adopt Jesus’ kind and loving approach, in our interactions with others.  

Goethe once penned, “Treat a man as he is and he will become worse; treat him as he ought to be, or he aspires to be, and he will become better, because our aspirations are the most ‘real’ part of us.”  

We can help others (and ourselves, too,) see the possibility for goodness within them, just as Jesus did, because we each have the capacity to do so, aided by the working of the Holy Spirit in our souls.  

From Spectator to Participant

Today’s omni-present media threatens to turn us into spectators, onlookers and bystanders.  If you are a “nature lover,” you don’t have to get your shoes dirty, or allow the rain to dampen you nor even leave the comfort of your living room.  Abundant “streaming” videos await your sampling, with a feast of sights and sounds (but no “smells,” so far…all without risk, pain or trouble.)  Yet what a poor substitute they are for the “real thing.”  Nonetheless, some people, claiming to love nature, seldom, if ever, have walked in the woods, crossed open fields or strolled along the shore.  They are merely spectators.  They are not really involved.  When we become involved, we “give ourselves” to the enterprise, and, in return, receive much more than we give.  

There is one thing to be said for the spectator, however:  he or she is, at least, interested.  And where there is interest, there is the possibility for real involvement.  

So it was, for people like Zacchaeus, who might have remained on the sidelines, but chose to rise above the crowd, for a better “look.”  

While living in Panama, several years ago, I become interested in the pocket pool game of “snooker.”  However, I soon learned that due, in part, to the relatively small demand (if any,) by the public for the game, there were no snooker tables to be found, anywhere near our small town of Boquete.  

Returning to the USA, in 2020, I looked for a house that could accommodate a snooker table in the “great room,” of our new home, and now one adorns the eastern half of our living room.  There, I can practice and play, at my leisure.  

The point of my story is that like other “sports” events that are televised, I might have been content to spend my time simply “watching” matches on television, like I did in Panama.  But having my own table allows me to not only watch, when I please, but also actively enjoy the game—first hand—and enjoy the company of others to join me.  Further, I’ve found a rather active “snooker club” in Tucson, whose members share my enthusiasm for the game.  Fellowship with them and my house guests affords many hours of pleasurable interaction.

We are all aware of countless people who spend hours watching spectator sports at home.  They can simply “watch,” their favorite sporting event (think golf, tennis, etc.,) as spectators, and most people choose this passive appreciation rather than to actively playing in the company of others.  (An obsession with “the media” has become a concern for many parents, who seldom see their children leave their computers and go “outside” to play.)  

Similarly, during the past 22-years of my priesthood, it would have been possible for me to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for those who may have wished to join me, and be satisfied with that effort.  But I felt it my “calling” to go out and interact with people; offering the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments to those who could not “come to me.”  This included spiritually interacting with residents of retirement and nursing home communities, funeral homes and countless opportunities afforded me, during the eight years I served as chaplain with the Albuquerque Police Department.  From those involvements, I ministered to people who also wanted Masses for their loved ones, or at their homes, in parks and hotel ballrooms, where I performed Baptisms, weddings, Confirmations and Final Blessings for the Sick (and even several opportunities to provide family counseling—which added another rich dimension to my priesthood.)

All of us have opportunities to “live our faith,” and, when we do so, experience wholesome, spiritual interaction with others, rather than remain on the “outside,” looking in.  When we answer Jesus; invitation and welcome Him into our hearts, we are filled with joy, because only He can fill that deep part of our being.

May God Richly Bless You!


What Does the Lord Require?.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:  


Edited by Father Michael
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