Today’s gospel story is depicted in the uppermost pane of the northeast window of our Cathedral in La Crosse. The bottom window sets the theme for the series: the Church as the “House of God.” The gospel story of Zacchaeus was the traditional gospel for the Mass for the dedication of a church. When a church is dedicated it becomes a house of God. When the eucharist is first celebrated in a church and when the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle, the Savior himself comes to stay in that house, just as he once came to stay in the house of Zacchaeus.
Even before the Lord entered the house of Zacchaeus, he had already touched his soul. It is the conversion of Zacchaeus that is the most important result of his encounter with Jesus. This becomes evident when we hear these passages from today’s First Reading: “But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.…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!” Although criticized for associating with those deemed to be sinners, Jesus says: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”
The passage from the Book of Wisdom quoted above sees God’s mercy not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of his greatness. Why? Because God does not have to answer to anyone else who forces him to be merciful. In his greatness, freedom and love for his creatures, God is merciful because that is his nature and he spares all things because they are his. Perhaps the author was inspired by the reflection in Psalm 8: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?” If we think about that long enough, we should come to the same conclusion as the psalmist: “O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!”
Please keep in mind that Tuesday, November 1, is the Solemnity of All Saints and a holy day of obligation. Wednesday, November 2, is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day). It is a day of prayer and penance for the souls in purgatory. There will be an expanded Mass schedule on both days.
Next weekend St. Charles Borromeo Parish will celebrate its patronal feast day, transferred to Sunday from November 4. This is permitted during the season of Ordinary Time so that more parishioners may participate in its observance. St. Peter Parish will observe the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
With Election Day approaching it is important to be familiar with the various candidates and issues that are being decided on every level of government. A bulletin insert and pamphlets in the pews are being distributed this weekend in all the city parishes and Tilden which we pastors hope will help youl to be informed voters.
Pray the rosary this week for the souls in purgatory. Pray for people you know who are no longer practicing the Catholic faith. Pray for good weather for the completion of the fall harvest. Pray for those in our community who are homeless, unemployed or needing health care. Pray for the good of our country and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.