Who we meet along the way

From time to time, my dad would remind me that “every person you meet is your better in that you can learn something from them.” Good and sage advice. I wonder if he knew he was echoing Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.”  Of course one can then ask if the quote is original to Mr. Emerson. Continue reading

A debate about Resurrection

This coming Sunday is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Lectionary Cycle C. The gospel addresses questions on Resurrection through a dialogue between Jesus and some Sadducees “those who deny that there is a resurrection.” (Luke 20:27). Since early in the summer (Luke 9:51) we have been following Jesus’ travels as he moves towards Jerusalem. Last Sunday gospel’s encounter with Zacchaeus (19:1-10)  took place in the town of Jericho. This Sunday’s gospel is located in Jerusalem. As before there are verses in Luke that fall between these two Sunday gospels. Continue reading

Room for surprise

Zacchaeus – we know him well, right? He is the chief tax collector, short of stature, wealthy, looked down upon by Romans and Jews alike. His fellow countrymen considered him a sinner – says so right there in verse 7. They know him. We know him. If you go to Jericho today, they will show you the sycamore tree in which Zacchaeus climbed just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. We know the story, right? Another sinner that Jesus has come to rescue from perdition. Says so right there in verse 10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.Continue reading

Saving What Was Lost

This coming Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Yesterday we considered the “cost”of grace. Today we take a look at the graciousness of Jesus

Jesus’ words in v. 9 are literally: “Today salvation has happened to/in this house(hold), because also this one is a son of Abraham.” What is the “salvation” that has happened? “Salvation” (soteria) is a rare word in Luke. All the other occurrences are in the Benedictus (Zechariah’s song of praise – 1:69, 71 & 77), which are in references to John the Baptist’s ministry. The related word also translated “salvation” (soterion) occurs in the Nunc Dimittis (Simeon’s cry of praise in 2:30) and in a quote from Isaiah (3:6). So outside of two songs and an OT quote, the noun “salvation” only occurs in this text. (Neither of these words occur in Mt or Mk and only once in John – although we have already encountered a related verb “to heal/save” (sozo) and will again in v. 10 below.) Continue reading

Trying to Keep Up

I long ago stopped trying to keep abreast of things in the social media realm. Facebook has its popularity among the generations that now in their working years, are separated by distance from friends and family, and want to stay connected in some degree. In other words it tends to serve those of us older than teens and 20s. The stock price of Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has plummeted more than 60 percent. The stock price of Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has plummeted more than 60 percent.  I wonder if these are signs that Facebook is skewing even older. Continue reading

A Warning About Cheap Grace

This coming Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Yesterday we considered the interplay between Jesus and Zachaeus, as well as the crowd’s reaction to the interchange. The dialogue and invitation raise another question to consider: Is it possible to be too gracious?

Should Jesus have told Zacchaeus to straighten up his act before he invited himself to his house? Couldn’t Jesus’ actions have been interpreted as condoning the tax collector’s sinfulness? Isn’t that the accusation against the Christian Churches of Germany after WWII? Continue reading

Now more than ever

With two weeks before the mid-term elections the “volume” has been turned up on political ads. Locally there is only one item on our ballots: seat for this district’s seat in the US House of Representative. The television market place is saturated with political ads. The internet has places that saturate the moment, e.g., YouTube. I think we have all grown so accustomed to the unrelenting, intense bombardment of political ads that we don’t listen and just hunker down ans take shelter until it is over. Too much money and the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC have make all this possible – the funding, technology and access. But the content is a different matter. Continue reading

Jesus and Zacchaeus – Conversion

This coming Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. Yesterday we considered Zacchaeus’ quest and the ongoing Lucan question: who can be saved. Today, the story continues.

Zacchaeus, in spite of his reputation, is an attractive person. In our brief meeting, qualities akin to those of Peter emerge. Zacchaeus is spontaneous and impetuous, given to extravagant statements. But there is a deep genuineness. Though he is a person of some importance, his position does not prevent him from climbing the sycamore tree nor from publicly admitting his guilt and professing his repentance. Jesus says this is a son of Abraham, even if he is a tax collector. He should not be ostracized because of his failings but helped to find his way back to the flock. Continue reading

When no one is watching

Today’s first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. If one step’s back for “the big picture” the letter deals, however, not so much with a congregation in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor as with the worldwide church, the head of which is Christ (Eph 4:15), the purpose of which is to be the instrument for making God’s plan of salvation known throughout the universe (Eph 3:9-10). Yet this ecclesiology is anchored in God’s saving love, shown in Jesus Christ as head of the Church (Eph 2:4-10), and the whole of redemption is rooted in the plan and accomplishment of the triune God (Eph 1:3-14). Continue reading