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See the face of Jesus in the most poor and vulnerable

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Editor's note: This homily is from Nov. 17.

As I mentioned before, that line in St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians is quoted quite often. In fact, recently, one of our congregational leaders used it as a justification for cutting food stamps -- "People who don't work should not eat; cut the stamps" -- even though more than half the people on food stamps are children.

In conversion, God seeks us

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I'm sure we remember that we have been making this journey with Jerusalem over these past weeks, throughout the summer and now through the fall, and Jesus has been trying to show us what happens in a dramatic way to Zacchaeus in today's Gospel. Jesus has been calling us to conversion. At the very beginning of his public life in Mark's Gospel, Jesus says, "The reign of God is at hand. Change your lives." In other words, be converted -- change -- and today, we have a very dramatic example of such a conversion.

Jesus is with us now and every moment

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When we hear this Gospel lesson, I'm sure all of us immediately ask ourselves, "Am I like those nine? Most of the time, do I forget to thank God? Always asking God, but not thanking God?" That's an important part of the message of this morning's Scriptures. But if we listen really deeply to all three of our lessons today, there's an even more profound understanding about God that we will come to, and about Jesus.

Reminder: God made the world for all, not for a few

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If we listen carefully to these readings, they are very challenging to us, especially when we live in a culture that so holds up riches as the goal of our life very often. But it's really, in a way, quite unusual how these Scriptures are so timely because of what is happening in our world at this very moment. We live in a period of time in our country where what Amos was picturing in that first lesson seems literally true.

We must reach out in love to one another

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When we reflect on the Scripture lessons at a holy Eucharist like this, it's always important to put our reflections within the context of our everyday life -- what's going on in our lives, what's going on in the world around us -- and then we draw from the Scriptures to see how it applies to our life as it is right now in these circumstances. This morning, I think it's very providential, almost, that we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the high school class of St. Alphonsus.

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August 15-28, 2014

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