Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gospel Reflection

November 03, 2013
Sunday – Year of Faith – Ordinary Time
by Fr. Alex Clemente, RCJ (Vice Rector and Prefect, Rogationist Order, Rogationist Seminary-Manila)
7:15AM Mass, Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel (Greenbelt Chapel), Makati

Reading 1 Wis 11:22-12:2

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people's sins that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned. And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things! Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14

R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
I will extol you, O my God and King,
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

Reading 2 2 Thes 1:11-2:2

Brothers and sisters: We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

We ask you, brothers and sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a "spirit," or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.

Gospel Lk 19:1-10

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.  Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."  And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."


Today's Liturgy is focused on the characteristics of God. All the readings that we have heard reveal to us who God is. In the First Reading from the Book of Wisdom, it is revealed that our God is a God of mercy. He is a God of compassion. He is a God of forgiveness. The Responsorial Psalm describes furthermore God's mercy, compassion and forgiveness. He is a God who is rich and great in mercy and kindness. He is a God of opportunity. He gives us a chance to repent, to be good and improve. And in today's Gospel, we have seen the personification of that God in the person of Jesus. He is a God who seeks those who are going astray. He is full of mercy and runs after sinners. 

This is totally opposite from our tendency. Whenever we are offended or hurt, yes, we can forgive, but we expect the other person to make the first move. That is our kind of reasoning, so we wait. But our God is a God who initiates. He is ready to bow down, just to meet the sinners. 

Yes, God is powerful, but His power is manifested in His mercy, in His compassion, in His gentleness. This is totally opposite with the power that we know in this world. In our society, people of power are stiff and feared. We tremble in front of them. We should not disobey them, or we face the consequences. But our God who is powerful is full of gentleness and love.

When Jesus met Zacchaeus, Jesus ran after him, inspired him, and brought him to repentance and conversion. Zacchaeus was a public sinner and I am sure that he was aware of his stature. He was considered a powerful man during that time, but he was aware of his sins. Perhaps he already heard criticisms and have experienced rejections from the people around him. But when Jesus met Zacchaeus, he did not say anything bad about him. Jesus just told Zacchaeus that He needed to stay in his house today. Hindi Niya sinumbatan si Zacchaeus. And Zacchaeus was deeply touched by that power. It was like a magnet that he could not refuse. 

My dear friends, that's the power of God, manifested in His mercy, in His compassion, in His forgiveness. May we be inspired by that mercy, by that power of God. As has been said in one of our readings, may we be consumed also 'like the morning dew in front of the sun'. That was Zacchaeus. He was absorbed by the compassion of Jesus. He was ready to abandon everything, when he told the Lord that he shall give half of his belongings to the poor and pay those who he took advantage of. 

My dear friends, when we truly experience God's compassion and mercy, we cannot but share the same mercy, the same compassion, the same forgiveness to others. And so, if we find it hard to forgive, to understand and to feel sympathy toward our brothers and sisters, let us remember the mercy and compassion that God has freely and generously given to us. Let us pray that we may be like our Lord God and become instruments of God's mercy. Just like Zacchaeus, may we join the company of Jesus, proclaiming the same mercy, the same compassion to other people. May we truly be God's compassion, and may we manifest it to others. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.