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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (C): Wisdom 11:22—12:2 • Luke 19:1-10

For October 27, 2016

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Heavenly Father,
your Son commanded us to love one another as he has loved us,
and he taught us that he loves us as you love him.
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon us as we read your word,
so that as we come to understand your love for us
we may better love you, and all you have created, in return.
Amen.

St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.

First Reading – Wisdom 11:22—12:2 (NAB) (RSV)

📕  The book of Wisdom, like Sirach, is another deuterocanonical book belonging to the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament. It is sometimes called the “Wisdom of Solomon” because some of its verses use language evocative of the reign of King Solomon in Israel. It was written in Greek, but in the style of Hebrew poetry, and was composed either in the 2nd or 1st century BC, many centuries after the death of Solomon. The book describes Wisdom in ways that associate it with creation, salvation, and instruction (thus, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), possibly expressing a first glimpse of a Trinitarian view of God (see especially Wisdom 9:9-18).

📖 Wisdom 10:1—11:20 speaks of the role of Wisdom from the creation of Adam and Eve through to the exodus from Egypt. Our reading picks up immediately after this, where the text becomes more general and describes God’s patience and mercy with His creation. We will include verse 21, which is omitted from the Mass reading.

👤  King Solomon, whose reputation is evoked in the book of Wisdom, was the third king of Israel. Saul was the first king, followed by David, followed by David’s son Solomon. Solomon was visited by God in a dream (1 Kings 3:1-15), in which God told Solomon to ask for anything. Solomon, despite his youth, realized that he needed the gift of wisdom to justly govern the kingdom and its people. This request pleased God exceedingly, that Solomon did not ask for a long life, or the deaths of his enemies, or for riches, so God gave him these things in addition to great wisdom, such that there would never be another king like him.

Gospel – Luke 19:1-10 (NAB) (RSV)

📕 St. Luke was the author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke reports at the beginning of his gospel that many others had already compiled narratives of the life of Jesus, and that his is “an orderly account” intended to assure you (the reader) of the truth of the things you have heard. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to “Theophilus”, which may have been a person, but it may just be a generic term (because it is Greek for “lover of God”).

📖 After the two parables about prayer, Luke records four more scenes in chapter 18: a) people bringing their children to Jesus to bless them (15-17); b) a rich man asking Jesus how he can inherit eternal life, and Jesus’ challenge to him to give up everything and follow him (18-30); c) one of Jesus’ prophecies of his impending arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection (31-34); d) and a miracle of restoration of sight to a blind beggar (35-43). Chapter 19 finds Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, arriving at Jericho, around 20 miles to the northeast.

👤  Zacchaeus (whose name means “pure”) was a chief tax collector. Remember tax collectors? They were hated for their service to the Roman occupiers and for extorting more money than was owed in taxes. Zacchaeus was particularly wealthy, which implies he collected far more money than was due.

👤  Abraham was the man God chose to inaugurate His covenant with after the time of Noah. Originally named Abram, he lived in the land of Ur (probably in modern-day Iraq) and was called by God to leave his homeland and travel to Canaan, which would eventually become the land of Israel. God made three important promises to Abraham: he and his descendants would have land, they would become a great nation, and all the world would find blessing through him (Genesis 12:1-3). These promises were elevated to covenants through Moses (land), David (kingdom), and Jesus (blessing). Since Abraham was the forefather of Judaism (being the great-grandfather of Judah for whom Judaism is named), the Jews considered themselves heirs of the promises he received.

 

Study Questions

🗣  What links can you find between the Old Testament and Gospel readings?

🗣  Why is God is merciful, according to Wisdom 11:23 and 12:2?

🗣  Why is God’s mercy unexpected, according to Wisdom 11:21-22?

🗣  Recall what God said after every stage of creation in Genesis 1.
How does that confirm the claim of Wisdom 11:24?

💪 Does God’s mercy toward us give us the right to keep sinning?
What is a better response to His mercy?

🕊   What are some examples of Jesus being patient and merciful with His disciples?

💪 How can we imitate God’s patience and mercy?

❤️ If God loves every soul He has created, what is His ultimate desire for each person?

🗣  Why was the crowd an obstacle to Zacchaeus seeing Jesus?

🗣  What is ironic about the crowd’s reaction to Jesus going to Zacchaeus’ house (Luke 19:7)?
Does it remind you of a recent parable of Jesus? (See Luke 18:9-14)

💪 What does Zacchaeus do in response to receiving Jesus?

💪 Recall the reading from Sirach 35. Is Zacchaeus trying to bribe Jesus and buy forgiveness?

🗣  Compare Luke 18:18-30 (Jesus and the rich man) with this passage.

❤️ What does Jesus’ response to Zacchaeus mean (Luke 19:9-10)?
What is the importance of being “a son of Abraham”? (See Luke 3:8)

❤️ In order to receive salvation, what two things were required of Zacchaeus?
How does this apply to us reaching heaven?

Commentary

Christ exhorts us to imitate this long-suffering goodness of God, who makes the sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust; that we may be careful not to revenge, but may do good to them that hate us, and so may be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect.

St. Augustine (d. 430), Reply to Faustus the Manichaean, XIX:28

Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them, or to return the equivalent in kind or in money, if the goods have disappeared, as well as the profit or advantages their owner would have legitimately obtained from them. Likewise, all who in some manner have taken part in a theft or who have knowingly benefited from it … are obliged to make restitution in proportion to their responsibility and to their share of what was stolen.

Catechism 2412 on Luke 19:1-10

Consider This

What obstacles do you encounter that try to keep you from Jesus?  What do you need to rise above, like Zacchaeus, in order to see Jesus clearly?

How do your encounters with or experiences of Jesus change you?

Do you seek to right the wrongs you have committed?

Reflection

🗣  What have I learned about who God is,
so that I can love Him better?

🕊   What have I learned about Christ,
so that I can recognize his love for me better?

💪  What have I learned about the Christian life,
so that I can show my love for God and neighbor better?

❤️  How can I incorporate into prayer what I have learned,
so that I can express my gratitude for God’s love?

Closing Prayer

Almighty God,
we thank you for patience with us,
and for the great gift of mercy that you extend to us.
May we imitate Zacchaeus, by responding to mercy with great love,
and learn by your example to be patient and merciful with others.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C): Sirach 35:15b-22b • Luke 18:9-14

For October 20, 2016

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Opening Prayer

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

Heavenly Father,
your Son commanded us to love one another as he has loved us,
and he taught us that he loves us as you love him.
We ask you to send your Holy Spirit upon us as we read your word,
so that as we come to understand your love for us
we may better love you, and all you have created, in return.
Amen.

St. Jerome: pray for us.
St. David: pray for us.

First Reading – Sirach 35:15b-22b (NAB) (RSV)

📕  The book of Sirach belongs to the “wisdom literature” section of the Old Testament. It was written in Hebrew at the beginning of the 2nd century BC by a man named Joshua, either the son or grandson of Sirach. The book begins with a prologue written by Joshua’s grandson, who translated his grandfather’s Hebrew text into Greek in the late 2nd century BC. The Catholic Church considers this book canonical (inspired) Scripture although it was not part of the accepted Hebrew scriptures.

📖 In the New American Bible (NAB), this reading is verses 12-19a. In the Revised NAB, it’s verses 15b-22b. In the Revised Standard Version (RSV), this reading is verses 12b-18a. This is due to differences in splitting up the sentences of this chapter into verses. If there is any confusion, this passage begins with “For he is a God of justice” (NAB) or “For the Lord is the judge” (RSV), and concludes with the words “will not delay” (NAB and RSV).

📖 This chapter admonishes the reader to keep the commandments, to be kind, to be generous in charity, to avoid bribes; in general, to act with justice. From there it describes the most just one of all, God, which is where our reading begins. The themes in the reading are very similar to Jesus’ parable about the widow and the judge (Luke 18:1-8).

📖 This whole chapter is worth reading, but we’ll stick to what we’ll hear at Mass. For some reason, the reading at Mass skips the verses about the tears of the widow, but we’ll include those too.

Gospel – Luke 18:9-14 (NAB) (RSV)

📕 St. Luke was the author of both a gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Luke reports at the beginning of his gospel that many others had already compiled narratives of the life of Jesus, and that his is “an orderly account” intended to assure you (the reader) of the truth of the things you have heard. Both Luke and Acts are addressed to “Theophilus”, which may have been a person, but it may just be a generic term (because it is Greek for “lover of God”).

📖 This reading picks up immediately after last Sunday’s reading, about perseverance in prayer. The theme of prayer is continued, but the emphasis is now on one’s attitude in prayer.

📖 A parable is usually a brief story that teaches a lesson by way of comparison or allegory. The word comes from the Greek parabole meaning “to throw (bole) alongside (para)”, just like hyperbole (an exaggerative expression) means “to throw (bole) beyond (hyper)”.

👤  Pharisees were a religious sect in Judaism; their name means “separated ones”, and they were so named for two reasons. First, they were so concerned to keep the Jewish faith free from foreign religious practices that they demanded strict separation from Gentiles (non-Jews). Second, they considered themselves set apart from other Jews because of their strict adherence to priestly laws concerning ceremonial purity, despite not being priests! They looked down on other Jews who did not live up to their observances. Jesus considered them to be good teachers of the Law, but not good doers of the Law. He recognized that they were more focused on exterior purity than interior purity, and on adhering to the tiniest parts of the Law while actually overlooking the most important parts. (Read Matthew 23 for his rant against them.) Because of this conflict, the Pharisees considered Jesus an enemy and sought to have him discredited, and they eventually arranged for his arrest, trial, and execution.

👤  Tax collectors (or “publicans”) on the other hand, were notorious among the Jews for being allied with their Roman rulers and for extorting additional money on top of the taxes that were owed. Pharisees despised the tax collectors (and all other sinners, for that matter), and were outraged that Jesus would speak and dine with them. One of the apostles and evangelists, Matthew (also named Levi), was a tax collector (see Matthew 9:9).

Study Questions

🗣  What links can you find between the Old Testament and Gospel readings?

🗣  What does it mean to be “partial” or to “show partiality”?

💪 What does the First Reading teach us about what God thinks of justice?

💪 How should we conduct ourselves in prayer if we wish to be heard by God?

🗣  What does Jesus say about the manner in which the Pharisee prayed (see Luke 18:11)?

🗣  What is the content of the Pharisee’s prayer? To whom does he compare himself?

🕊   What type of person might the Pharisee represent?

🗣  What is the content of the tax collector’s prayer? To whom does he compare himself?

🕊   What type of person might the tax collector represent?

💪 Is righteousness displeasing to God, and sin pleasing to Him?
Do fasting and tithing displease God?

💪 What positive lessons can we learn from both the Pharisee and the tax collector?

💪 How do we exalt ourselves? How do we humble ourselves?

❤️ What are some prayers we know that ask God for forgiveness?

💪 What can some of these prayers teach us about forgiving others?

❤️ Consider what both readings say about prayers reaching God in heaven.
What can they teach us about ourselves reaching heaven?

Commentary

When we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or “out of the depths” of a humble and contrite heart? He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer.

Catechism 2559 on Luke 18:9-14

Consider This

When reading or hearing this parable, do you ever stop and think to yourself, “I’m glad I’m not like the Pharisee”? If so… read the parable again.

When a class takes a test, if the teacher grades on a curve, it usually means the student who scores the highest on the test, no matter what their actual score is, is considered to have scored 100%, and the other students are graded in proportion to that student. Its opposite is grading the students without comparing them to each other, but to a perfectly taken test.

How did the Pharisee believe God “grades” humanity? What did the tax collector believe?

And you?

Reflection

🗣  What have I learned about who God is,
so that I can love Him better?

🕊   What have I learned about Christ,
so that I can recognize his love for me better?

💪  What have I learned about the Christian life,
so that I can show my love for God and neighbor better?

❤️  How can I incorporate into prayer what I have learned,
so that I can express my gratitude for God’s love?

Closing Prayer

Almighty God,
grant us the grace to be humble in your presence,
to confess our sins and strive for righteousness in your sight.
Keep us from becoming proud and setting ourselves apart;
rather, may our witness to your great love for mankind
encourage all to approach you and be welcomed into your kingdom.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.