My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Like St. Paul and his co-workers, I always pray for you with thanksgiving. I pray that by all our efforts in God’s name that our ministry will bring forth the grace of God, glorified in you and you in Him. My prayer begins around the table of the Lord as we consecrate the offering of ourselves through, with and in Christ, brought before Him in the form of bread and wine to become His Body and Blood. As we receive this wondrous Gift of the Eucharist, we share His salvation through all ages. In this reception of Christ, we take Him into our world and share His generous mercy — His matchless love — as we meet each other in our homes, our workplaces, our chores, our recreation, our rest.
The Gift of Christ is not something which we can return, like something purchased in the marketplace. The Eucharist we accept and receive is boundless as we live in Christ. We belong to God as we receive Him and we agree to serve Him evermore. His mercy shines forth through us and we turn around any negativity and discord into God’s powerful goodness.
The transfiguration of our world then, depends upon our response to Jesus. We are ready to respond wholeheartedly to His love when we begin to live according to the Gospel. When we let go of “things,” we find our heart liberated to follow Jesus without doubt or encumbrance. In the Gospel of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, we listen to St. Luke speak about Zacchaeus who was a tax collector and wealthy man. He was considered a sinner. But Jesus does not discard him or ignore him. Zacchaeus seeks out Jesus and Jesus invites Himself to his house for dinner. Because of Jesus’ boundless mercy, Zacchaeus repents, offering 50% of his wealth for the poor and to pay back four times over any person he cheated!
As we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we agree to journey toward heaven; to extend His love to all people; even those about whom we have spoken against or treated poorly. Think about the last time you scorned a person or spread gossip or fought with someone. Jesus asks us to return to that person and ask for forgiveness, for that is exactly what Zacchaeus, in his own way, agreed to do. He was going to return to each person he wronged and ask for forgiveness. We are called to spread the peace, the forgiveness, of Christ to each other. Think about the time you were impatient because someone did not serve you as quickly as you wanted and you let him/her know about your dissatisfaction. Pray for that person and his/her needs. Perhaps he/she needed a smile at that moment and you were unable to provide that in Christ’s name. There are many ways in which we can bring Jesus to each other. How are you called to be His light?
Pope Francis said of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus, “It is the welcome and attention Jesus shows to Zacchaeus that leads to his conversion.” Our Holy Father continues, “Encountering Love, discovering that he is loved despite his sins, (Zacchaeus) becomes capable of loving others,” turning money from a source of sin, to “a sign of solidarity and communion.”
Our Redeemer always loves us into being. He pardons our daily faults against Him. He transfigures humankind by His eternal love as He relies upon us to bring His love to each other. The practice of letting go of our ‘things’, of all that is not of God, is a continual struggle for each one of us. Yet, we can renew ourselves through the Gift of the Eucharist, we consecrate ourselves again to God’s love. By our reception, we can help renew and restore others. As we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints on November 1 and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed Nov. 2, we remembered and honored the faith-filled journey of the saints and our loved one(s) whose deliverance of God’s goodness on earth showers God’s ubiquitous love upon us from heaven.
Let us begin each day praising God and asking Him to sanctify our every work. May our effort of faith glorify God.