Thank you to all who participated in out all parish meeting last weekend. A report was included in this week’s bulletin and is posted on our webpage.
This past week you should have received the parish mailing for the 2020 pledge drive, and this weekend we are having the witness talks at all Masses. This coming weekend please bring your pledge card and put it in the regular collection. Your pledges help us build a realistic budget for the coming year. This coming weekend we will also be holding our annual Ministry Fair. My hope is that each parishioner would be involved in at least one parish ministry. Please plan on visiting the ministry tables and discerning how you can contribute your time and talent to your community and its ministries.
Our Advent evening of reflection will be held on Tuesday evening, December 3rd, from 7 to 8 pm in the church. I will share some thoughts on Distractions to a Lifestyle as a Disciple, followed by some quiet time for reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Please take advantage of this opportunity to enter into the spiritual season of preparation for celebrating the birth of our Savior.
Our Gospel last weekend presented two people praying in the temple. The tax collector received mercy while the judgmental, righteous Pharisee received nothing. That Gospel is a lead-in to our Gospel this weekend about the tax collector Zacchaeus.
There is no indication that Zacchaeus was looking to get anything from Jesus; he was simply curious. Why did Jesus’ simple statement that he wished to eat at Zacchaeus’ house cause such a radical change of direction in his life? Because, as a tax collector, Zacchaeus was an outcast of society, a traitor who colluded with the oppressor Romans and handled the idolatrous coins with the head of Caesar on them. No one of any worth would associate with him. But Jesus wanted to eat in his house: to eat at someone’s house was to identify with them. In other words, Jesus did NOT condemn him but was saying “I want to be identified with you,” and that acceptance called forth from Zacchaeus a life changing conversion. Meanwhile, the Pharisees and others were mumbling and condemning. See how it is a mirror of our Gospel story last week?
The message to us is that when we accept people as they are without condemning, we can be inviting them to grow. When we condemn, people get defensive. When we accept someone as a person (I am not talking about accepting bad behavior), the path is open for that person to grow. As Pope Francis said a couple weeks ago on World Mission Sunday, our “mission is to make disciples for Christ,” and we do that by sharing “the good news that in Jesus mercy defeats sin, hope defeats fear, brotherhood defeats hostility.” That happens when we treat others as Jesus treated Zacchaeus.
Reflection for this week: how do I treat outsiders? Do I ask to be identified with them as Jesus did to Zacchaeus? Or do I tend to be more condemning and ostracizing, as were the Pharisees? What can I change in myself so that I am acting more like Jesus? And let us support each other in prayer.
Notice Zacchaeus didn’t do these things to WIN Jesus’ approval; he already HAD it. His conversion was a response of gratitude to being loved and accepted.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS