Studies and Meditations on this Sundays Scripture Readings: November 3, 2013


#1

And Jesus said to Zacchaeus, "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."

To help us prepare for this coming Sunday, here are the readings, studies and reflections for this coming Sunday's Scripture readings. This Sunday is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Here are the Scripture readings from the U.S. Catholic bishops website.

My own weekly study on the Sunday Readings can be found here at my website.

Here are three short audio reflections on the readings by Sister Ann Shields, Dr. Scott Hahn, and Fr. Robert Barron.

Scripture scholar Fr. Francis Martin's video meditations on the Sunday Scripture readings can be found here.

Here is a Catholic Bible study podcast (each about an hour long) from the Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother. The sister leading the study does a really nice job using primarily, I believe, the notes from the St. Charles Borromeo study linked below.

Further study resources for the Readings: St. Charles Borromeo Bible Study can be found here, Catholic Matters can be found here, the* Catena Aurea* ("Golden Chain") of St. Thomas Aquinas can be found here, and the Haydock Commentary can be found here.

Please consider supporting those who provide these free resources.

Discussion, questions and charitable comments are always welcome. Have a blessed week!

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hRbSeP0QLQQ/TxxXBZ3_jWI/AAAAAAAATo8/NB7ECQfbCbo/s1600/zachaeous.jpg


#2

Don't forget a personal lectio divina, and if possible a group one. Several pontiffs have publically recommended lectio divina as a way of deepening our understanding of biblical texts.


#3

[quote="Mount_Carmel, post:2, topic:343919"]
Don't forget a personal lectio divina, and if possible a group one. Several pontiffs have publically recommended lectio divina as a way of deepening our understanding of biblical texts.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: Good reminder! As a matter of fact, the Vatican, in cooperation with the American Bible Society, has just published a new book on the practice and benefit of lectio divina:

Book co-published by Vatican teaches Catholics to pray with Bible


#4

I didn't know that the American Bible Society had anything to do with Catholics, the Catholic Church, or the Vatican.

Scott Hahn's commentary has something at the end which is not in this week's scripture reading. He says:

We are also called to seek Jesus daily with repentant hearts

This requires a much larger discussion, but for now: In a book on Yom Kippur from the (Jewish) Artscroll publisher, this is a distinct point that is made about Jewish spirituality, to repent every day.

We (including all of Judaism) is supposed to repent as soon as we sin. Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) comes along once a year, ten days after the Rosh Hoshana new year's celebration (the supposed anniversary of the creation of mankind, on the sixth day of creation). A Jew has a ten-day period in which to repent with his fellow man, before the solemn day of affliction (fasting) and asking God for forgiveness. This is how one atones for sin against God.

The Jews are taught, though, that to atone for sins against their fellow man, they have to go to the party they have injured and beg for forgiveness relentlessly until it is obtained Failure to repent and atone on the Day of Atonement, is itself considered to be an aggravating sin, because we (they, the Jews) are commanded to do that.

Like other commands in the Hebrew Bible, the humiliating obligation of seeking forgiveness is meant to be a deterrent -- you should never want to have to do that.

These are important lessons to learn from the Jews and quite probably what St. Paul is talking about in Hahn's statement above.

And, that, in turn, should train us not to anything to offend God.


#5

[quote="sirach2v4, post:4, topic:343919"]
I didn't know that the American Bible Society had anything to do with Catholics, the Catholic Church, or the Vatican.

[/quote]

It doesn't typically. this seems to be a one-off collaboration between the two, although it appears the ABS has branched out into getting Catholic Bibles into the hands of Catholics to encourage them to read it more.

americanbible.org/bible-ministry/catholic-resources

The audio clip provided with the article talks more about the details of this collaboration.

Scott Hahn's commentary has something at the end which is not in this week's scripture reading. He says:

We are also called to seek Jesus daily with repentant hearts

This requires a much larger discussion, but for now: In a book on Yom Kippur from the (Jewish) Artscroll publisher, this is a distinct point that is made about Jewish spirituality, to repent every day.

We (including all of Judaism) is supposed to repent as soon as we sin. Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) comes along once a year, ten days after the Rosh Hoshana new year's celebration (the supposed anniversary of the creation of mankind, on the sixth day of creation). A Jew has a ten-day period in which to repent with his fellow man, before the solemn day of affliction (fasting) and asking God for forgiveness. This is how one atones for sin against God.

The Jews are taught, though, that to atone for sins against their fellow man, they have to go to the party they have injured and beg for forgiveness relentlessly until it is obtained Failure to repent and atone on the Day of Atonement, is itself considered to be an aggravating sin, because we (they, the Jews) are commanded to do that.

Like other commands in the Hebrew Bible, the humiliating obligation of seeking forgiveness is meant to be a deterrent -- you should never want to have to do that.

These are important lessons to learn from the Jews and quite probably what St. Paul is talking about in Hahn's statement above.

And, that, in turn, should train us not to anything to offend God.

When I was putting together this weeks Scripture study, I ran across an interesting cross-reference from Numbers 5:5-7:

5 And the LORD said to Moses, 6 "Say to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that men commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person is guilty, 7 he shall confess his sin which he has committed; and he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it, and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.

It would seem that, as a general principle, the Israelites were bound by protocols of reparation including: Confession of the sin (presumably to a priest who would oversee the protocol), make restitution to the wronged party, and on top of that, pay an additional 20%. In todays Gospel, Zaccheaus, out of true repentance, exceeds even that additional amount.


#6

**Navarre Bible Commentary

First Reading - From: Wisdom 11:22-2:12

God, Almighty and Merciful
--------------------------**
[22] Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground. [23] But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men's sins, that they may repent, [24] For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it. [25] How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?

[26] Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, 0 Lord who lovest the living.

[1] For thy immortal spirit is in all things. [2] Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass, dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin, that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, 0 Lord.
*


Commentary:*

11:21-12:2. The lessons given here about God's steadfast love and mercy towards all created things are not anything new, of course (cf. Hos 6:4-6; Jon 3:1-4:11), but maybe they were never quite as forcefully put as here (especially vv. 23-26), and the style of sapiential argument spells out very well the universal range of God's mercy towards sinful man and the love that is at work in creation and in its conservation. St Thomas deals with this subject with his typical clarity: God would never have created something which he would then not love, for it derives from him and participates in his supreme goodness, even if only to a tiny degree: "God loves all living things. He does not love in the same way as we do, for our will does not make things good; human love is a movement of the will towards its object ...]; the love of God creates and fills all things with goodness" ("Summa Theologiae", 1, 20, 2).

Therefore, when God punishes man, as he sometimes does, his intention is always one of love and mercy. It is this divine purpose that 11:23-26 takes pleasure in showing to be all-encompassing: God is all-powerful; nothing, no one, can resist him; his mercy does not stem from any weakness on his part; it is the effect of love: he loves the living.

Origen used this passage to draw lessons about God's all-embracing love: "Because we are his children, the Lord encourages us to develop the same attitude, and teaches us to do good works for all mankind. For that is why he is called the 'savior of all people, especially of those who believe in him' (1 Tim 4:10), and his Christ the 'expiation of our sins, and the sins of the whole world' (1 Jn 2:2)" ("Contra Celsum", 4, 28).

St Gregory the Great, in his homilies to the people of Rome, exhorted them to appreciate God's unlimited love for sinners: "Here we read that he appeals to all those who are stained with sin, and cries out to all those who have abandoned him. Let us not spurn the hand of mercy that he holds out to us; let us not fail to see the great value of the love the Lord has for us. In his kindness he calls out to those who have lost their way, and he prepares a place for us, for when we return to his heart of mercy. Let each person consider the debt that weighs him down--and all the while God waits and never loses his patience with us. Let those who chose not to stay with him return to him; let those who failed to appreciate his love stand close by his side, so that they may be raised up" ("Homiliae in Evangelia", 33).

The passage also underlines God's loving providence towards all created beings. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church", 301 puts it as follows: "With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and bring them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence."


Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#7

**Navarre Bible Commentary

Second Reading - From: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2

Prayer for Perseverance
-----------------------**
[11] To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, [12] so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Coming of the Lord
----------------------

[1] Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, [2] not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.


Commentary:**

  1. S t. Paul takes up the thread of the prayer he began in v. 4, asking God to keep the believers true to their calling. He himself is very good example of how teachers of Christian doctrine should approach their work; he does not confine himself to expounding the truths of faith: the first step he takes is to pray for his work to be fruitful. St. Augustine observes that anyone who wants to teach the word of God “tries as far as possible to make his words understandable, pleasing and persuasive. But he should be convinced that if he is to obtain a good result it will be due more to the piety of his prayers than to his gifts of speech. And so, praying for those he is to address, he should be more a supplicant than a speaker. When the time comes for him to speak, before actually doing so he should raise his parched soul to God that he may utter only what he has himself eaten and drunk” (“Christian Instruction”, 4, 15).

T he Apostle asks God to make the Thessalonians “worthy of his call”, that their efforts should have the support of divine grace, for no supernatural action can be planned, begun or brought to a conclusion without the grace of God (cf. Boniface II, “Per Filium Nostrum, Dz-Sch”, 399). Hence the liturgical prayer: “Lord, be the beginning and end of all that we do and say. Prompt our actions with your grace, and complete them with your all-powerful help” (“Liturgy of the Hours”, Morning Prayer, Monday Week 1).

  1. The Greek formula here translated as “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” could also be interpreted as “according to the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ”–in which case we would have here a confession of christological faith which would be of enormous value on account of its antiquity. It would be an acknowledgment of Christ being both God (“Theos”) and Lord (“Kyrios”), that is, “Iesus Christus, Dominus et Deus noster”. However, the expression “our God” often appears in Pauline writings (cf., in this very chapter, vv. 2 and 11); he also frequently uses the formula “Lord Jesus Christ”. This suggests that there is a distinction between “our God” and “the Lord Jesus Christ” (or even “our Lord Jesus Christ”); hence the preferred translation.

1-2. The main theme of the letter is given here–the timing of the second coming of the Lord. Some people had been unsettling the minds of the Thessalonians by saying that the Parousia was about to happen. The phrase “by spirit” is a reference to people claiming to have a charismatic gift of prophecy from the Holy Spirit who were spreading their own ideas as if they came from God. Others preferred to pass off what they had to say as coming from St. Paul (orally or in writing). Those who try to mislead the people of God by teachings contrary to Christian faith often use methods of the same sort. By twisting the meaning of Sacred Scripture (cf. Mt 4:6) they not infrequently promote wrong teaching as if it were a revelation from the Holy Spirit. The Second Vatican Council has reminded us how to identify subjective interpretation of that kind: “The task of giving an authentic interpretation, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (“Dei Verbum”, 10). Even in our own day there are sects and impressionable people who put a lot of effort into working out when the second coming will take place, sometimes making specific predictions which the passage of time disproves. They are missing the main point, which is that we should be always on the watch, always ready to joyfully meet the Lord. “To the effect that the day of the Lord has come”: this is literally what the Greek says–or “as if the day of the Lord is here”, in the sense of “about to come any minute now”. The New Vulgate [and the Navarre Spanish: trs.] translate it as “as if the day of the Lord were imminent”, which is faithful to the tenor of the text and reads more clearly.


Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#8

**Navarre Bible Commentary

Gospel Reading - From: Luke 19:1-10

The Conversion of Zacchaeus
---------------------------**
[1] He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through. [2] And there was a rich man named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. [3] And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was to pass that way. [5] And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” [6] So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. [7] And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
*


Commentary:*

1-10. Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind; He has healed many sick people, has raised the dead to life and, particularly, has brought forgiveness of sin and the gift of grace to those who approach Him in faith. As in the case of the sinful woman (cf. Luke 7:36-50), here He brings salvation to Zacchaeus, for the mission of the Son of Man is to save that which was lost.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector and, as such, was hated by the people, because the tax collectors were collaborators of the Roman authorities and were often guilty of abuses. The Gospel implies that this man also had things to seek forgiveness for (cf. verses 7-10). Certainly he was very keen to see Jesus (no doubt moved by grace) and he did everything he could to do so. Jesus rewards his efforts by staying as a guest in his house. Moved by our Lord’s presence Zacchaeus begins to lead a new life.

The crowd begin to grumble against Jesus for showing affection to a man they consider to be an evildoer. Our Lord makes no excuses for his behavior: He explains that this is exactly why He has come–to seek out sinners. He is putting into practice the parable of the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-7), which was already prophesied in Ezekiel: “I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the crippled, and I will strengthen the weak” (34:16).

  1. Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus, and to do so he has to go out and mix with the crowd. Like the blind man of Jericho he has to shed any kind of human respect. In our own search for God we should not let false shame or fear of ridicule prevent us from using the resources available to us to meet our Lord. “Convince yourself that there is no such thing as ridicule for whoever is doing what is best” ([St] J. Escriva, “The Way”, 392).

5-6. This is a very good example of the way God acts to save men. Jesus calls Zacchaeus personally, using his name, suggesting he invite Him home. The Gospel states that Zacchaeus does so promptly and joyfully. This is how we should respond when God calls us by means of grace.

  1. Responding immediately to grace, Zacchaeus makes it known that he will restore fourfold anything he obtained unjustly–thereby going beyond what is laid down in the Law of Moses (cf. Exodus 21:37f). And in generous compensation he gives half his wealth to the poor. “Let the rich learn”, St. Ambrose comments, “that evil does not consist in having wealth, but in not putting it to good use; for just as riches are an obstacle to evil people, they are also a means of virtue for good people” (“Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.”). Cf. note on Luke 16:9-11).

  2. Jesus’ ardent desire to seek out a sinner to save him fills us with hope of attaining eternal salvation. “He chooses a chief tax collector: who can despair when such a man obtains grace?” (St. Ambrose, “Expositio Evangelii Sec. Lucam, in loc.”).


Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase
The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.


#9

More helpful resources for this Sunday's Readings:

Ignatius Insight

Msgr. Charles Pope

The Sacred Page

The Word Among Us (meditation)
The Word Among Us (questions for discussion)

Free Republic Catholic Caucus

Have a blessed Sunday!


#10

When I tried the link to Fr. Barron's commentary, it was not working.


#11

[quote="sirach2v4, post:10, topic:343919"]
When I tried the link to Fr. Barron's commentary, it was not working.

[/quote]

I just checked it and it's working for me. Maybe his site was having problems earlier; you might want to give it another try or two. :)


#12

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