Pastoral Sharings: " The Conversion of Zaccheus"

WeeklyMessageFather Cusick
November 3, 2013
Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

Wisdom 11,22-12,1; Psalm 145, 1-2.8-9.10-11.13.14; 2 Thessalonians 1, 11-2,2; St. Luke 19, 1-10

Zaccheus is filled with remorse for his sins, so much so that he promises publicly, before Jesus and other witnesses, to perform reparations for his crimes.

What moves Zaccheus to this sincere contrition for his sins and the vow to change his life, even to a willingness to endanger his livelihood? How does he find within himself such superhuman generosity? He has encountered the transforming supernatural power of Divine Love.

Conversion has a social component because it is a rejection of sin and its social consequences.

“Conversion is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice and right, (Cf. Am 5:24; Isa 1:17) by the admission of one’s faults to one’s brethren, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, endurance of persecution for the sake of rightgousness. Taking up one’s cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance.” (Cf. Lk 9:23) (CCC 1439)

Sorrow for sins, always necessary for receiving the grace of God’s forgiveness, should always accompany one’s works of reparation for sin.

“The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God’s mercy. (CCC 1490)

Sorrow for sin is always required when celebrating the sacrament of Confession in order that the penitent may indeed receive the graces of the sacrament. As well, one’s sorrow and experience of God’s healing love can and should move one to repair damage or replace what is taken away from others by one’s sins.

Reparation, as seen in the example of Zaccheus, may under certain circumstances be a duty for the penitent.

“Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience. (CCC 2487)

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation reconciles the repentant sinner both with God and with the communio, or community, of the Church.

“During his public life Jesus not only forgave sins, but also made plain the effect of this forgiveness: he reintegrated forgiven sinners into the community of the People of God from which sin had alienated or even excluded them. A remarkable sign of this is the fact that Jesus receives sinners at his table, a gesture that expresses in an astonishing way both God’s forgiveness and the return to the bosom of the People of God. (Cf. Lk 15; 19:9.)”(CCC 1443)

Zaccheus was converted from an attraction to evil by his attraction to the love of Christ and a desire to share in it.

“God is infintely good and all his works are good. Yet no one can escape the experience of suffering or the evils in nature which seem to be linked to the limitations proper to creatures: and above all to the question of moral evil. Where does evil come from? ‘I sought whence evil comes and there was no solution,’ said St. Augustine, (St. Augustine, Confessions 7,711:PL 32,739.) and his own painful quest would only be resolved by his conversion to the living God. For ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ is clarified only in the light of the ‘mystery of our religion.'(2 Thess 2:7; 1 Tim 3:16.) The revelation of divine love in Christ manifested at the same time the extent of evil and the superabundance of grace.(Cf. Rom 5:20.) We must therefore approach the question of the origin of evil by fixing the eyes of our faith on him who alone is its conqueror. (Cf. Lk 11:21-22; Jn 16:11; 1 Jn 3:8.) (CCC 385)

(See also Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph numbers 549, 1443, 1936, 2412, 2712.)
Publish with permission.

Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
November 3, 2013

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 19:1-10
Gospel Summary

Jesus has now arrived at Jericho and so his long journey to Jerusalem is almost over. He has been modeling for us our own journey of faith. When he meets Zachaeus he reminds us that it will not be possible to go with him all the way to Cross and Resurrection without total generosity.

Zacchaeus – Look Who’s Coming to Dinner
Tax collectors have never been popular.  But in Roman Palestine, they were particularly hated.  It was bad enough that they collaborated with the foreign oppressors.  It’s understandable that the Jews felt about the same thing for the Romans as the French did for the occupying Nazis in World War II.

31th Sunday: His Mercy Knows No Limits
Jesus didn’t intend to stay there.  He was passing through Jericho.  But something happened that made Him change His plans.  Compassion happened.  And Mercy.  And Love.  The little man that everyone hated, Zacchaeus the head tax collector, had climbed a tree along the road that Jesus was walking down.  He was merely curious.  He wanted to see this Jesus. But then Jesus stopped under the tree and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly because today I must stay at your house.”  The man with the crowds around Him hanging on His every word, saw the man that everyone avoided, everyone hated, changed His plan to pass through Jericho, and said, “I must stay at your house.”  Shocking.  So also was Zacchaeus’ reaction.  He promised to give half his possessions to the poor and payback four times over all he had extorted.  Jesus cared about Him. Zacchaeus would not let the moment pass.  And salvation came to little Zacchaeus’ house.

Love of God ‘Scorches’ Our Selfishness, Pope Francis Says
VATICAN CITY — In his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis continued his reflections on the Creed and focused on the centrality of the communion of saints in the faith and how that communion embraces and purifies the Church.

“The love of God,” Pope Francis told thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 30 for his weekly address, “scorches our selfishness, judgments and divisions.”

Called to be holy: Cardinal Dolan’s 10-step guide to holiness
An edited excerpt from then Archbishop Dolan’s “Called to Be Holy”

Here is the key to our spiritual growth: a faithful, personal, loving relationship with Jesus. To know Jesus, to hear Jesus, to love Jesus, to trust Jesus, to obey Jesus, to share his life in the deepest fiber of our being, and then to serve him — this is our goal.

What’s In Your Heart? — Six Areas to Examine
The things that we do can reveal who we are. You have heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” We know this is very true.

There are many people who deliberately say one thing and then do another. We call these people hypocrites. They lie about who they are, intentionally, in order to gain something they desire.

The Ways of God for Fathers – Delighting in Goodness
Thomas Aquinas writes: …
all goodness is pleasing to Him by nature, always and everywhere, whether it be in angels, in men, or in other creatures…Similarly all evil displeases God everywhere and always and in whatever it exists.

Nine Ways the Eucharist Is Hidden in the Old Testament
The Eucharist is among those ‘concealed wonders and choice treasures’ in the Old Testament. At first, with the obvious exception of the manna heaven that rained down on the Israelites, it seems that there is little in the Old Testament that foreshadows the extraordinary new reality that is the Eucharist. But Newman invites us to venture deep into the hidden valleys and the secret gardens of the Old Testament. When we do, it turns out the Eucharist is everywhere—from the Pentateuch to the prophets.

Ho Hum on Heaven? Not only have many lost a proper fear of Hell, but also a deep longing for Heaven.
Many years ago I was taught that the essence of heaven is the Beatific Vision. That is, one will look upon the glorious and radiant face of God, and find in that look the fulfillment of all desires, and a joy (beatus) beyond all telling.

And surely this description remains both true and worth repeating. However, I have noticed that some get stuck on the the word “vision” and to some extent on the word “face,” and tend to reduce the experience to a kind of “static” (unchanging) vision.

Why Are We So Afraid?
As I’ve taught classes and given talks on the “New Evangelization,” I’ve been struck at how both Jesus and the apostles make a regular part of their message not only the positive proclamation of the Good News that Christ has, by his sacrifice, won redemption for the whole world, but also the terrible consequences of neglecting such an offer: namely, hell.

Pope Francis, the Devil, and Us
The world’s press and the blogosphere have been abuzz for several months now with comments on how frequently Pope Francis talks about our enemy, the devil. Not only does he talk frequently about the devil, but he talks in such a way that indicates he actually believes in the devil’s existence and daily relevance to each of our lives — as should all faithful and well-formed Catholics.

The Smoke of Satan Returns
In 1972, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Paul VI delivered a sermon that startled the world. Describing the chaos then consuming the post-conciliar Church, he lamented: “From some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

Beware of Satan
Do you believe in the Devil?
It seems probable that a large number of modern Christians would be somewhat embarrassed if faced with the question. Many would like to see in Satan only a symbolic representation of the evil tendencies in human nature. Others, while giving a notional assent to his existence, could hardly be said to believe effectively in him, to make that belief an active element in their lives: their assent would remain notional rather than real.

Marriage, Divorce and Mercy
Pope Francis has often expressed compassion for divorced Catholics who have remarried and feel cast off from the communion of believers who receive the holy Eucharist.

his book On Heaven and Earth — translated into English this year — he sought to calm that sense of alienation: “Catholic doctrine reminds its divorced members who have remarried that they are not excommunicated — even though they live in a situation on the margin of what indissolubility of marriage and the sacrament of marriage require of them — and they are asked to integrate into the parish life.”

The Communion of the Holy: True Consolation of Our Faith
“The communion of the holy”, one of the most beautiful aspects of our faith, as it was defined by Pope Francis, was the theme of the catechesis of this Wednesday’s general audience, which took place in St. Peter’s Square and was attended by more than 80,000 people.

Make Your Work An Act of Worship
Has man’s God-given vocation been entirely lost sight of? Look around you. You live in a world that has lost faith. Religion has been replaced by work and achievement. In such a world, men take work very seriously. They want nothing less than perfection in it. Hence, their goal and their norm of judgment is efficiency. Consequently men are judged not by what they are, but by what they can do. No wonder your economic world wobbles. It has lost its center of gravity.

The Beauty of the Time-worn Eternal Gospel
I have spent the last 3 years trying to complete David Bentley Hart’s book, Atheist Delusions, and the great pleasure I take in reading his inimitable celebration of language makes me wish the book had no final chapter.

In any event, there was one quote (pp. 215-16) on the utterly singular contribution of Christianity to ethical thought that I felt compelled to share here in its entirety. Brace and pace yourself for its density, but let me opine that the yield of insight is worth the labor!

The Blessings of Sin
When asked once about a sermon he’d just heard, the legendarily laconic Calvin Coolidge managed to summarize its theme in a single word:  “Sin.”   Pressed for details concerning the preacher’s views on the subject, President Coolidge added four more:  “He was against it.”  Where Coolidge himself stood on the matter, the record does not show.  But it’s a pretty safe bet that he too was against it.  Aren’t most people averse to sin?  Yes, even as they perversely persist in the practice.

Because Our Neighbors Include the Dead
And that is why we pray for them. Sure, I could knock you around with scriptural references galore for why Catholic Christians pray for the dead, from both the Old Testament and the New.

From the Old Testament, for example, I could trot out the prayers of Judas Maccabeus for his fallen troops from the Deuteroncanonicals. From the New Testament, I could show you St. Paul’s prayer for Onesiphorus in his second letter to Timothy. These might convince you that it is ok for Christians to pray for the dead, you know, because it’s Biblical.

Unexpected Yet Well-Prepared: Death Be Not Proud
My good friend Daniel Peper died a month ago. He was only 57 years old and, apparently, in great health. His death was thus a great shock for both family and friends.

I thought that Daniel would live well into his 80s or 90s, barring some unforeseen tragedy, and Daniel thought so too, given his family history and because he was physically fit and committed to regular exercise and other healthful activities.

The Gift of Faith
As the Year of Faith draws to a close Nov. 24, Ignatius Press has provided us with a collection of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2012-2013 Wednesday general audience talks on the subject of faith.

The Holy Father dedicated his final weekly audiences to exploring the personal meaning of faith, and, although the Year of Faith may soon be over, his reflections retain a lasting value.

Benedict made clear that faith is, first and foremost, something personal, not just something propositional. Faith is about Someone, not just something:

The Myst-ery of Revelation
As we head for Advent, which is the time of year in which we recall the events of supernatural revelation found in the Old Testament that lead up to the manifestion of Jesus Christ in the New, it seems to me that it might be salutary to take the month of November to likewise look at natural revelation, which paves the way for the supernatural revelation found in scripture and tradition.  Here is how the Catechism sums things up:

New Purgatory Film Focuses on ‘The Forgotten Church’
Purgatory: The Forgotten Church, recently released on DVD(, is the latest film written and directed by Franciscan Friar John Clote.

It follows in the steps of his other work, like the award-winning Ocean of Mercy and films about St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and Venerable Solanus Casey. The documentary is a production of Lightbridge, a ministry of the Conventual Franciscan Friars of St. Bonaventure Province in Chicago, to which Friar John, a seminarian, belongs.

Shortly after the documentary was released, Friar John spoke with the Register about the film and the topic of purgatory.

Pope Francis celebrates hitting 10m Twitter followers
A jubilant Pope Francis celebrated reaching 10 million followers on messaging site Twitter on Sunday , a milestone in the Vatican’s drive to spread the gospel through social media.

“Dear Followers I understand there are now over 10 million of you!” the pontiff wrote on his nine accounts, which publish simultaneously in languages including Latin, Polish and Arabic. “I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me.”

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