In this Month of November, we traditionally remember the Dead. All our family and friends who have gone home to the Lord before us in faith. On All Souls Day, we celebrated our annual Mass of remembrance for all who died and were buried from Holy Trinity Church in the last twelve months.
One of the core beliefs of our Catholic faith is an after-life and the resurrection of the faithful departed.
However, the Sadducees didn’t believe in an after-life or the resurrection of the dead. They used the opportunity to ask Jesus a tricky question to test him. They questioned him on the woman who had been married seven times. They wanted to know whose wife she would be if there was such a thing as resurrection. Jesus is quick to state that in the afterlife our relationship with each other will be entirely different. First and foremost, our relationship will be with God our father, However, it is worthy of note that he does not say that the special bond that exists between family members in this life will no longer remain.
So much of life after death is a mystery – one of the great mysteries of our faith. Those words of the Profession of Faith can simply fall from our lips without much thought as we recite at Mass ‘I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen’.
November is a suitable time to remember our dead, not with any morbid fear but in the hope of joining them once more in eternal life.
On Tuesday 1st November we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation when we honour all Christian saints, known and unknown. The Feast is celebrated by all Christian churches. There will be a Vigil Mass at 6.30pm on Monday evening, and Mass at 10.00am on Tuesday morning.
Wednesday 2nd November is the Feast of All Souls, with morning Mass at 10.00am as usual. At 7.30pm we will celebrate our Annual Remembrance Mass for all parishioners who died and were buried from the parish this year.
The story of Zacchaeus is familiar to many who received their First Communion in the 1980s and 1990s. However, about 15 years ago the story was replaced by the story of the Lost Sheep. Thankfully the story of Zacchaeus has once again been returned to the schools’ religion programme as the best illustration of forgiveness in preparation for the children’s First penance.
Something had stirred Zacchaeus to come and get a glimpse of Jesus. We are told that because he was ‘short’ he couldn’t see him so he climbed the sycamore tree to get a better look. It’s while he is up there that Jesus sees him and calls him down, declaring that ‘I must stay at your house today’. The others in the crowd were not impressed that Jesus had chosen to go and stay at the home of a ‘sinner’. Through this simple encounter Zacchaeus is moved to change his lifestyle and he immediately admits that he has not always been honest in his dealings with others but he vows to make restitution to those he has cheated out of their money. He didn’t do this to gain Jesus approval, but rather to show gratitude for the new direction in life that he had gained.
Jesus loved Zacchaeus – a sinner, and by that love Zacchaeus’s life was transformed. May each one of us be transformed by opening our hearts and minds to his salvation in our lives.
As the last line of today’s gospel proclaims ‘For the son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost’.
Jesus uses todays Gospel story to challenge those who may think they were better than others and who despise anyone else who may fall short of their high moral standards.
We hear of the two men who were at prayer in the temple. One of them is a tax collector and the other a Pharisee. While they are there, the Pharisee who is a good living man, is very quick to speak out to distance himself from the ‘sinful’ tax collector and his way of life. He thanks God and speaks about all the good things that he does, fasting, paying taxes, and points out the faults and failings of the other man. He has a false sense of security about himself.
In complete contrast, the tax collector is aware of his own faults and failings. He does not need reminding. We are told he stands some way off and does not even look to heaven. He asks for God’s forgiveness with the powerful words ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’. Thus, Jesus tells us that the man ‘went home at rights with God’ while the Pharisee did not.
It’s so easy for all of us to become spiritually smug and think we are better than the next person and more deserving of God’s mercy. We are all sinners in varying degrees. So, the next time we feel the urge to point the finger at someone else maybe we should think again and point it inwardly towards ourselves and use those amazing words in today’s Gospel ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’.
Whenever we see our need for God we shall have mercy shown to us.
Today we read about the Judge whom we are told ‘had no fear of God or Man’. He was in such a position of authority that people were at the mercy of his decisions with no recourse to any appeals it seems. It appears that perhaps he may not have always granted the correct justice due to individuals in all matters that came before him.
The widow wants justice for some wrong that has been done against her although we don’t hear what it was. It’s obvious that she had come to court seeking justice before but those attempts have not had the deserved outcome. Not giving up she becomes a one-woman pressure group and keeps up her quest in the belief that she will get justice in the end as a result of her persistence.
Eventually, not out of any moral duty or fear for God or man, the Judge grants the woman her request simply because he knows that the woman will persist with ‘pestering’ him. He wants an easy life without having to answer to anyone else for his decisions – good or bad.
Jesus promises that justice will be done in due course to all who call on him night and day in prayer. Like the woman in today’s parable who didn’t abandon her quest, he urges us to never be discouraged and encourages us to do likewise in daily prayer.
In the last line of today’s Gospel Jesus asks the all-important question ‘when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth’?
Daily prayer is essential to living faith filled lives.