August 6, 2016

Aug. 5

August 5, 2016:  Friday, 18th week, Ordinary Time

See 13 connections with today?
Legend below

Pope Francis
World Youth Day closing homily:  Today’s Gospel speaks to us of a meeting between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  Jesus wants to draw near to us and accompany our journey to its end, so his life and ours can meet.  Zacchaeus was a wealthy collaborator of the hated Roman occupiers; he exploited his own people and so could not approach the Master.  His encounter with Jesus changed his life and can change ours.  He had to face obstacles in order to meet Jesus:
Smallness of stature:  As little Zacchaeus couldn’t see Jesus, we can risk not getting close because we don’t feel big, or worthy, enough.  But faith says we're God's children, created in his image.  Jesus took our humanity upon himself and won't be separated from us, and the Spirit wants to dwell within us; that's our real "stature."  Not to accept ourselves, to live glumly, is not to recognize our identity, like walking away from God, trying to spoil his dream.  God loves us the way we are; nothing we do changes his mind.  You are important!  God is counting on you for what you are, not what you have.  He cares about you, not your clothes or cell phone; you're precious to him.
When we aim too low, remember God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love.  He believes in us more than we in ourselves.  He's our biggest fan, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves.  Our brooding keeps us from getting up and starting over, but God believes we can always get up and hates to see us gloomy because we're his children.  Every morning, pray, “Thank You for loving me; help me to be in love with my life!
Shame:  Imagine what was going on in Zacchaeus before he climbed the sycamore:  a struggle between desire to know Jesus and the risk of ridicule.  A public figure, he knew he'd become a laughingstock but mastered his shame because his attraction to Jesus was stronger.  As when we fall in love with someone we do things we'd never have thought of doing, Jesus was so important to him that he'd do anything for him.  Shame didn't paralyze him; he ran, climbed up, and hurried down, putting his life on the line.  This is the secret of joy:  to take risks; life isn't meant to be tucked away.  We can't sit around waiting for Jesus; we can't respond to his offer of life just by thinking or texting.  Don't be ashamed to confess your weaknesses, struggles, and sins to the Lord; he'll forgive you and give you peace.  Say yes, respond generously, and follow him!  Don’t grow numb, but aim for the love that demands sacrifice. Say no to the drugs of success at any cost and worrying only about yourself.
The crowd's grumbling:  How could Jesus have entered this sinner's house!  It's hard to welcome Jesus!  People will block you, make you think God is distant, rigid and insensitive, good to the good and bad to the bad, but our Father “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good.”  He demands of us the courage to be more powerful than evil by loving everyone, even enemies.  People may laugh at you because you believe in the power of mercy, but fear not.  Think, “Blessed the merciful; they'll receive mercy.”  People may consider you dreamers because you believe in a humanity that rejects hatred, doesn't see borders as barriers, and cherishes traditions without being self-centered or small-minded.  Smile, open your arms, proclaim hope, and be a blessing!  The crowd judged Zacchaeus, but Jesus gazed beyond appearances and his faults and saw the person.  He sees future good. even when his gaze is not met; it seeks the way of unity and communion.  Gaze like Jesus and help bring about another humanity; maintain a pure heart and fight peaceably for justice.  Distrusting the cult of appearances, download a heart that sees and transmits goodness.  Give the joy God freely gave you; many are waiting!
Jesus invites us like he did Zacchaeus:  “I must stay at your house today.”  Jesus wants to meet you in your home from now on, not just in cherished memories.  He wants to dwell in your lives:  studies, work, friendships, hopes, and dreams. Bring it all to him in prayer!  Let his word speak to you every day; make his Gospel yours, a compass on the highways of life!  Jesus calls you, as Zacchaeus, by name; your name is precious to him.  His memory isn't a data archive but a tender loving heart that finds joy in “erasing” evil in us.  Imitate that memory:  treasure the good, your encounter with the Lord, his presence and word, and listen to Jesus call your name.....

    • Na 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7  The bearer of good news is announcing peace!  Celebrate and fulfill your vows!  The Lord will restore Israel....
    • Mt 16:24-28  “To come after me, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you lose your life for my sake, you'll find it.  What profit is in gaining the whole world if you forfeit your life?  The Son of Man will repay each according to his conduct.”
        • Creighton:  Much of the Bible is written from the perspective of the oppressed.  What does justice mean in contexts like 7th-century Israel, where Assyria had left such a trail of destruction?  What about more recently in Syria, Cambodia, and the Sudan?  But Jesus says the path to salvation is self-sacrificial service.  God delivers justice through the Cross, the em-bodi-ment of the Son's self-sacrificial.  How will I follow him?
          Miracle of the Snow/ Zucchi
        • One Bread, One Body:  "Mary Major":  To be Jesus' disciples, we must lose our lives and follow him; only then will we find meaning and fulfillment. As Jesus hung on the cross, he provided Mary as our mother; she intercedes for us and speaks to us so we'll decide to pay the cost of discipleship.  We must decide to accept his mother as ours....
        •  "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it":  In every decision we are making ourselves a certain kind of person and shaping our future.  Money and possessions can't buy heaven, mend a broken heart, or cheer a lonely person.  All we have is God's gift.  A true disciple gladly gives everything up in exchange for life with God.  The cross leads to victory and freedom. What cross is Christ commanding me to take up today?
          • Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major ("Our Lady of the Snows"):  The Rome basilica, oldest in the West dedicated to Mary, was built shortly after the Council of Ephesus proclaimed Mary as Mother of God, a title emphasizing Jesus was divine and a man born of a woman.  (St. Ignatius Loyola celebrated his first Mass there.)
        Dress legend
        • 'Peace sign' tie bar: The bearer of good news announces peace! (1st reading)
        • Tie with grapes:  The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob (1st reading)
        • 'Blood drop' pin:  Woe to the bloody city (1st reading)
        • 'Car' and 'horse' tie pins:  The rumbling sounds of wheels, horses a-gallop, chariots bounding (1st reading)
        • 'Sword' tie pin:  The flame of the sword (1st reading); I'll sharpen my sword (psalm)
        • 'Hand' tie pin:  Their disaster is close at 'hand'; my hand shall lay hold of my quiver (psalm)
        • NEW Cross pin:  Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me (gospel)
        • 'Angel' pin:  The Son will come with his angels (gospel)
          • 'Skeleton' tie pin:  "Bodies to stumble upon" (1st reading)
          • 'Olympics' tie pin:  What profit would there be to gain the world and forfeit your life?  (gospel) [Coincidentally, the actual Olympics begin tonight.]
          • Green shirt:  Ordinary Time season

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