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Nov 4th,  31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Lk 19
Catholic Homilies
November 4th,  2001

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31st Sunday in Ordinary Time Lk 19

Background:

In many of the Gospel stories, Jesus seemed to be hanging out with people considered unacceptable by the rest of the community, especially by the religious leaders. Not only did a tax collector’s occupation carry a negative image, many of them were felt to be dishonest in the way they went about their work. All we know about Zacchaeus is that he was eager to see who this man Jesus was. His eagerness was rewarded in a way he might never have anticipated. Jesus saw him and invited him to dine with him, a sure sign that Zaccheaus was in for much more than he had anticipated. A look and an invitation from Jesus changed this man from the sinner the community thought him to be into a man upon whose house Jesus brought salvation.

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00spc.gif (820 bytes) Story:

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a top executive traveled to his company’s plant in a small city. The plant was a major source of pollution for the city causing damage to the lungs of the workers and of those who lived near the plant. The locals had mounted a campaign demanding a clean up of the area. The cost of a clean up would eat into the company profits. The executive’s task was to fight the clean up. Needless to say, he was persona non-gratia as anti-company sign and slogans abounded and marches were a daily occurrence. As he took a walk around the town on a Sunday morning, he passed a church with a sing proclaiming that all were welcome, even those who think themselves sinners. Now, our executive didn’t want to admit he was a sinner. Still, he was struggling with the evidence of pollution in the town and his company’s demand that he find a way to end the anti-company campaign, even if it meant firing the protestors. His entrance into the church caused a stir and whispers against his presence traveled up and down the aisles. He sat in the last pew, sensing he was not welcome but still wanting to find some peace. The sermon that day centered around the theme of God’s love for everyone and the possibility of forgiveness for all. The concluding hymn was Amazing Grace. The pastor frowned throughout the hymn and then returned to the pulpit thundering "You are not wretches!" As he walked down the aisle to the back exit, he kept pointing at people saying, "You are not wretches!" He stopped at the last pew, poked the executive’s chest, repeated the chant and then invited the executive to join him in the rectory for breakfast. The congregation was astonished. How could the pastor welcome this man? When the executive returned to his headquarters, he presented a compromise plan worked out at the breakfast meeting. Neither the locals or the company were completely satisfied but both knew that for their interests it was important to keep the plant operating.

* by Dr. Mary Durkin

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