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.
The Peace Pulpit
The Peace Pulpit (w/audio): The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector teaches us how to pray. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's homily.
Editor's note: This homily was given at a confirmation Mass.
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.
The Peace Pulpit (with audio): Each of Sunday's lessons shows us a little bit different way about faith. Listen to Bishop Gumbleton's latest homily.
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.
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.
When we hear about God in today's Scriptures, I think in some ways we kind of accept it, but with reservation. We don't really believe in that kind of absolute gratuitous love. A couple of weeks ago, I was traveling back from someplace on an airplane and, sitting while I was coming home, it was in the evening, so I got out my prayer book and was beginning to pray some of the Psalms.
As I listen to the first part of today's Gospel where Jesus notices that great crowds are following him, I get a sense that he almost becomes alarmed: "Do these people really know what it means to be a disciple -- to follow me? Or are they just filled with enthusiasm and think of me as a wonder-worker, and they're coming for favors and blessings and not really discerning discipleship -- what it means to follow Jesus?"
Editor's note: Bishop Thomas Gumbleton gave this homily Sept. 1.
As I mentioned to you at the beginning of introducing the Scriptures, Jesus has been teaching us over the last 10 or 12 Sundays various parts of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus -- how we are intended to be following him, following his way. Last Sunday, Jesus, in the Gospel, used the banquet as the point of beginning his discussion. But then at last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus described how extraordinary was what would happen at the fullness of time in the reign of God.