Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time [c]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Oct 25, 2010

By John Bucki, S.J.

Thirty-first Sunday of Ordinary Time [c]

October 31, 2010



Wisdom 11:22-12:2

2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2

Luke 19:1-10



October 24-30: Disarmament Week:

October 31: Halloween

November: Black Catholic History Month

November 1: Feast of All Saints

November 2: Feast of All Souls

November 2: Election Day in the US

November 7: Daylight Savings Time Ends in Most Places in the US




There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing, ... the right to education, and work...

 Vatican II, The Church in the Modern World, #26


“Because God is the creator, redeemer, lover of the world, God’s own honor is at stake in human happiness.  Wherever human beings are violated, diminished, or have their life drained away, God’s glory is dimmed and dishonored.  Wherever human beings are quickened to fuller and richer life, God’s glory is enhanced.  A community of justice and peace (thriving among human beings) and God’s glory increase in direct and not inverse proportion.”

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, 14


…we offer once again a simple image--a table. Who has a place at the table of life? Where is the place at the table for a million of our nation's children who are destroyed every year before they are born? How can we secure a place at the table for the hungry and those who lack health care in our own land and around the world? Where is the place at the table for those in our world who lack the freedom to practice their faith or stand up for what they believe? How do we ensure that families in our inner cities and rural communities, in barrios in Latin America and villages in Africa and Asia have a place at the table--enough to eat, decent work and wages, education for their children, adequate health care and housing, and most of all, hope for the future?  We remember especially the people who are now missing at the table of life--those lost in the terror of September 11, in the service of our nation, and in the bloody conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa.  A table is also a place where important decisions are made in our communities, nation, and world. How can the poorest people on Earth and those who are vulnerable in our land, including immigrants and those who suffer discrimination, have a real place at the tables where policies and priorities are set?

US Bishops, Faithful Citizenship


"In their patriotism and in their fidelity to their civic duties Catholics will feel themselves bound to promote the true common good; they will make the weight of their convictions so influential that as a result civil authority will be justly exercised and laws will accord with moral precepts and the common good."

Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam actuositatem 14


Thoughts for your consideration


Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us that God’s “imperishable spirit is in all things.” Catholic Social Teaching affirms the dignity of every human person.  “Every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.” 


In the gospel today, Jesus affirms the worth and goodness of God in a concrete human person, Zacchaeus of Jericho.


As a tax collector for the Roman oppressors, Zacchaeus makes lots of money but understandably seems to be respected or honored by no one in the town.  Jesus does not ignore this man whom so many people dislike. Jesus does not start out by condemning his behavior.  Jesus does not start out by exhorting him to change his behavior.  Jesus simply begins by treating him as a human being – by acknowledging his existence and coming to his house for dinner.  The next thing we know, Zacchaeus is changed.  He returns money to those who have been cheated.  He gives to the poor.  Salvation comes to him and his household.


Salvation is not just a feeling. It involves a change in behavior and in how we relate to the world.  This is what happened to Zacchaeus.  His behavior is changed. His way of dealing with people is transformed.  Social transformation begins.


Spirituality is not simply an interior thing. Spirituality involves our behavior and not just our personal behavior, but also our behavior as a society, as a community.  Good spirituality leads to social transformations.




As we prepare for the elections in the US this Tuesday, it is important that we keep in mind the values of Catholic Social Teaching and our commitment to the dignity of every human person. Our prayer is that our leaders will help us adopt policies that respect the dignity of every human person and help all people to enjoy a just share of God’s gifts to the world.  Everyone is valuable and everyone is to be included.  As we read today from the Book of Wisdom: “For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.”


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

When have you met a person who has changed your life in some way? 

What happened?  How did it change your life?




How does our culture affirm the dignity of every human person?

How does our culture fail to affirm the dignity of every human person?

Share examples from your experience.




How will Catholic Social Teaching influence your decisions in the upcoming election?

Actions - Links


The Election

A Prayer before an election can be found at: 

We ask for eyes that are free from blindness

so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters,

one and equal in dignity,

especially those who are victims of abuse and violence, deceit and poverty.


Some thoughts and resources to prepare for the election can be found at the site of Network, the Catholic Social Justice Lobby:


Physicians for Social Responsibility

“Physicians for Social Responsibility is a non-profit advocacy organization that is the medical and public health voice for policies to stop nuclear war and proliferation and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and toxic degradation of the environment.”   Their web site offers many opportunities for taking political action on justice and peace issues.  See  and check out the “take action” link.



“Crazy Facts”


Common Cause reports: “In every election this decade, candidates for Congress have raised more money from big donors and political committees and less money from small donors giving $200 or less. The 2008 election was the most lopsided yet: wealthy interests put in $8 for every $1 from small donors.”


“The Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan research group, estimates that independent groups will spend more than $500 million across the country this year to help candidates, with Republican-allied organizations likely to have at least a 3 to 2 spending edge. In 2006, the last nonpresidential federal election year, such groups spent about $300 million.”

Read more:



Prayers of Intercession


Response:  You have made all of us in your goodness.

May we rejoice in the goodness and gifts we have from God, we pray….

May we honor the goodness and gifts found in all other people, we pray….

May we respect all refugees and immigrants, we pray….

May we care with dignity for the elderly in community, we pray….

May we esteem all those who are dealing with disabilities and physical challenges, we pray….

May we forgive those who have hurt us in any way, we pray…..

May we bring to an end any more violence and war, we pray….




Litany of Thanksgiving to those who affirm our universal human dignity

(source unknown)


The response to each part of the litany can be a simple “pray for us,”  or it could be “Grant us peace and justice.” or whatever response fits you and your community.


Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who worked with the poorest of the poor,

Father Flanagan, who founded Boy’s Town,

Francis of Assisi, who respected all creation and even kissed the leper,

Dorothy Day, who spent her life in Housing of Hospitality,

Francis Xavier, who journeyed all over Asia to share the vision,

Peter Claver, who met the slaves who came to America,

Martin Luther King, who marched for the rights of all,

Rosa Parks, who refused to sit in the back of the bus,

Jean Vanier, who calls people into community,


Those who feed the hungry

Those who shelter the homeless

Those who do the works of mercy

Those who speak out for justice

Those who take time with the elderly

Those who work with children

Those who journey with the disabled


Those who share the vulnerability of others

Those who listen to others in their need

Those who proclaim equality for all





Recall the famous scene with the evil queen in the fairy tale Snow White. She would stand in front of her mirror and ask, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" A prayer exercise that I would like to suggest is a playful parallel to those words. Daily, after you have finished with the practical use of your mirror, stand for a moment in silence. Then look directly into your mirror and with great devotion pronounce this short prayer:

Mirror, mirror on the wall,

may I look with love on all.

~ Edward M. Hays in Holy Fools and Mad Hatters