Thirty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the Masses of

  • October 30, 2016 8:30AM
  • November 3, 2013


The poems Fr Dennis Dillon, SJ references this year are:

  • 2016 homily — Fall by Edward Hirsch
  • 2013 homily — Harmony by Stuart Kestenbaum

We also remember that, in phrases of our time, Jericho was considered a “den of iniquity.” So, one abridged telling, as Fr Dennis points out below about our God, “Lover of Souls,” is that this amazing God loves each of us, anywhere, anytime. And that is a reassuring thought.

In 2016, we reflected on —

  • D2 visualizes scene with short, scurrying Zaccheus (Zuh-KEE-us) played by Danny DeVito.
  • D2 had thought it might have been an original notion, but then one of the websites he uses (Left Behind and Loving It) also mentioned it, and then more.  He found it reassuring that others thought the same thing.
  • Blog Point 1: it’s unclear in the original Greek whether he climbs the tree because Jesus is short or Zaccheus is short.  Changes the reading a bit … and our sympathies some, too.  Reassuring to know Jesus might have been short.
  • Blog Point 2:  the tense of his compensation is in the present tense, as in “I am [currently] giving four-fold” rather than the future tense, “I will pay four-fold.”  The former is a mark of enthusiasm rather than conversion, the latter of which is often how the passage is read.  (rl note — this is also discussed in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary.)
  • Zaccheus comes down from the tree right away, another mark of this enthusaism.  And, from the blog, Jesus calls him by name … by nickname!!  “Zacchi” rather than “Zaccheus.”
  • So … we love a personal God, who loves us.  This took D2 (or at least rl’s recollection of where it took his homily!!) to the phrase from the Wisdom reading “lover of souls.”  Loving us as we are.  Zaccheus’ story fits with this.
  • D2 chose a poem by Edward Hirsch about autumn starting with “Fall, falling, fallen.” 
  • It reminds me (rl) of being on my bicycle in autumn going down our beautiful wooded roads in the Michigan autumn.  The scene is available for everyone, but it feels like it’s right there, just for me, because I’m with God — using the eyes, heart, senses, legs, lungs, and bicycle God gave me the money to buy, … all of it — to share it back with God.
    • And, I leave the experience feeling beloved and loving in return with an open heart, filled with gratitude quietly overpouring, which seems how we ought to feel after Eucharist, too.
    • D2 celebrates a great Eucharistic Rite, too.  Bottomline is that it feels like he loves us (or at least loves being with us), and rightly or wrongly, it then is easier to imagine Christ wanting to be close to us.

In 2013, we reflected that —

  • If it was a film, he’d have Danny DeVito play the role of Zaccheus — self-important tax collector, short, wealthy, but wanting to have different experiences.
  • So!  In D2’s Ignatian Contemplation of the scene:
    • It was quite a sight to see a wealthy man up a tree!
    • When a person in the gospel is called by name, it usually means the person became a Christian (as the gospels were mostly written for Christians
  • Zaccheus’ story is traditionally thought of as one of coming to faith
    • Seems like he climbed the tree out of sheer curiosity (rl — maybe the same kind of attitude that King Herod in JC SUPERSTAR had — just wanted to see a miracle).
    • Jesus calls him out of the tree so Jesus can be a guest and, of course, people complain in one translation “stood there” but it can also be translated as “stood his ground.”
    • Zaccheus knew his scriptures and has not turned his back on them.
      • The penalty for fraud was 2x the valued restitution.
      • The penalty for thievery was 4x the restitution.
      • Zaccheus has been paying the more serious restitution as an act of faith and repentance.  (See 2016 notes discussing that this was declaration of what he was already doing not a pledge of behavior to come.)
  • D2 thought this story is a reminder that the oddest circumstances lead us to God, natural curiosity to God’s grandeur, and how God intervenes and gives meaning.
  • Noted that a musing on how John’s gospel would have told this story would have Jesus intending to go to Jericho to find Zaccheus;  Lucan Jesus happens to need to go to Jericho and Zaccheus happens to be the soul he finds and saves.
  • Kestenbaum’s poem of Harmony captures this Lucan vision of salvation.

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