Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent:

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Advent: When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present [the] ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming (CCC 524). By preparing to celebrate Christmas, we renew our desire for the Lord's second coming. Whenever we contemplate the coming of Christ into history, it makes us long for Christ to come again. You have heard it said that Christianity is a historical religion: the mysteries of salvation took place in the unfolding of history; but, it is not simply a religion of antiquity. Rather, we believe in the Christ who came, and who will come again. So as we spiritually prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas we should always be mindful to renew our desire of the coming of Christ. Our readings today show us the way to do this.

In the gospel Jesus tells us that we know neither the day nor the hour of his coming. This might frighten us. We have to be vigilant, always ready for the coming of our savior. However, Jesus gives us an insight into vigilance. He notes that at the time of the Great Flood people were going about their daily business: they were eating and drinking, being married and being given in marriage. It will be the same on the day of the second coming. Rather than seeing this as something frightening, we should not be afraid. Jesus is telling us that it is ok for us to be going about our daily tasks, he never tells us to stop living our lives. Vigilance does not mean that we run away from life. Rather, vigilance means that we are constantly prepared for the coming of Christ in the midst of our ordinary lives. Are you a mother or father? Go on taking care of your kids, but do it in the sight of Christ, confident that if he came back today he would approve of what you are doing. Are you a banker, teacher, secretary, priest, you name it? Whatever you do, do it as if Christ were coming back today. We do not know the day or the hour, but whenever Christ comes back we should be ready to great him.

St. Paul reiterates this, but puts it in the realm of moral action. The more we contemplate the fact that Jesus could come back any minute, the more we want to have our affairs in order: Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day. We usually think about this during Lent, but if there is something in your life, some sin you are not proud of, why not ask Christ to help you with it during this season of Advent? Ask Christ to come into your life, especially into your sinfulness, for this is what it means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah tells us that all nations will come to Mount Zion, and from this holy mountain will go forth instruction. The word used by the prophet here is actually Torah. Remember that the Torah, which we usually translate as the Law, was God's precious gift to the Israelites. This was the special instruction that God gave to his people telling them precisely how they would be his people. This mystery only deepens at Christmas: the Word of God is sent into the world to teach, to give instruction, to build on the foundation of the Torah. So, another important way to prepare for Christmas is through instruction. We can never learn too much about our faith. Every year we give away hundreds of the little Advent books published by Magnificat: take one of them home and read it. This year we are going to put on an Advent series which will focus on Fr. Robert Barron's book on the Holy Eucharist (there are details in the bulletin), I invite you all to consider joining us so that you might learn more about your faith.

Our readings today give us two ways we can be vigilant even in the midst of our daily lives: conversion and instruction. These are two beautiful ways for the Lord to come into our lives, to touch our hearts and our minds and to renew our desire for the second coming of Christ.

It is certainly true that Christ has come and will come again, which is what Advent is all about. But, today as we celebrate this Holy Eucharist Christ comes in the here and now. There is no better way for us to prepare for the feast of Christmas and to renew our desire for the coming of Christ than by our faithful participation in the Mass. Here at this altar we remember the saving mystery of Christ come into the world, we pray for his Second Coming, and we receive him, here and now, in the Holy Eucharist.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christ the King

34th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Christ the King):


 

    Today is the feast of Christ the King. This is the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. This feast of Christ the King reminds us that Christ, by his death and resurrection, has been seated on the throne of heaven, where he has already begun to reign. Still, we await his coming when his Kingdom will have no end: long live Christ the King.

    Royalty has been in the news this week. England's Prince William got engaged to Kate Middleton. I was struck by radical difference between human royalty and the royalty of Christ. We know that the royal family of England is mostly symbolic. They are a remnant of the days when Kings and Queens ruled. All that is left, it seems to me, are the palaces. When we see the clips of the engagement announcement we see glitz and glamour. But, there is no substance there. The height of human royalty, it seems to me, has boiled down to flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, extensive paparazzi, but what else? There is certainly no salvation from the royal family of England.

    How much different is Christ! Today is the feast of Christ the King where we remember Christ in all his glory, but which Gospel does the Church give us to shed light on this mystery? Today we hear the gospel of the crucifixion. The cross is a contradiction. On the cross we see the Lord of life, dead. But, what a contrast with the notion of human royalty! With Prince William we see glitz and glamour, with Christ we see blood and nails. The kings of this world have costly garments, the King of the world to come was stripped bare. The kings of this world are crowned with gold and jewels, the King of the world to come was crowned with thorns. The kings of this world used to wield power through force of armies, the king of the world to come wielded power through self-sacrifice. The kings of this world dine in costly banquet halls and eat sumptuous meals, the King of the world to come poured himself out as food and drink for all of us. The kings of this world are seated on thrones of marble or gold, Christ, the king of the world to come was seated upon the throne of the cross. We could go on and on, but I think we see the point. There is a radical difference in the royalty of Christ.

    I'm being a little too harsh on human kings. People turned to kings, and we to our governments today, for peace and security. We hear that the people of Jerusalem went down to King David and begged him to be their king. There is a great desire in the human heart for peace and security. And while we are here in this fallen world, we strive to find that peace and security, and we should. However, we realize that this longing of every human being will never be perfectly fulfilled in this world, which is why we await the coming of Christ our King. True peace and lasting security are only to be found in Christ. He is not the king of our own choosing, we never would have imagined a king who suffered on the Cross. But, it was through this suffering, this self-sacrifice, that Christ defeated sin and death, the two greatest opponents of peace and security.

    The feast of Christ the king is an important reminder for each of us. We long for peace, but we will only find it in Christ. We will not find salvation in glitz or glamour, we will not find it in palaces or in the White House, salvation does not come from armies and power; salvation comes from Christ seated on the throne of the Cross. Like the people who went up to King David, let's approach Christ the King, let's ask him to be our King. Let's ask him to lead us and to guide us into the peace and security we long for. At every Mass we pray for the coming of God's kingdom. Every Mass is like a journey to the throne of God where we ask him to be our King: long live Christ the King.

Bible Study Week 3 Audio

Here is the audio from week 3.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bible Study Week 2

Here is the audio for week 2

My talk on the New Translation of the Missal:

Last week I was in Syracuse for the Diocesan Catechetical Institute Day. They asked me to give two talks. The first was on the new translation of the Roman Missal. I decided to post the text of the talk below.

Let's start with the first question that most people have: Why are we doing this?  Why do we have to have a new translation?

Where to begin?  Let's begin in 1962.  What big event happened in the life of the church in that year?  The second Vatican council of course.  This council affects everything we do in the church today.  But its effects are felt nowhere more than the liturgy.  We all know that the liturgy changed after Vatican ii.  The document from the church on liturgy is named Sacrosanctum Concilium. This was the first document published.  

1. This sacred Council has several aims in view: it desires to impart an ever increasing vigor to the Christian life of the faithful; to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change; to foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ; to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church. The Council therefore sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.

One such way that the council decided to renew liturgy was the allowance for vernacular liturgy.   

36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

3. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

4. Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

However the mass was not simply translated into English.  Rather all of the liturgical books of the church were revised.  

21. In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, holy Mother Church desires to undertake with great care a general restoration of the liturgy itself. For the liturgy is made up of immutable elements divinely instituted, and of elements subject to change. These not only may but ought to be changed with the passage of time if they have suffered from the intrusion of anything out of harmony with the inner nature of the liturgy or have become unsuited to it.


 

In this restoration, both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify; the Christian people, so far as possible, should be enabled to understand them with ease and to take part in them fully, actively, and as befits a community.

What we have now is often called the mass of Paul vi because it was under his papacy that the mass was reformed.  This mass was published in 1972.  Because there was a great desire to see this new mass in the vernacular as soon as possible all the countries of the worlds quickly translated this mass into the vernacular languages.  We have been using this translation.

However, in 2000 pope John Paul II promulgated a new version of the missal.  This book was, is, largely the same as the 1972 book but there are some differences.  For example, there are many more saints now since John Paul, he canonized many saints.  Also, there were some changes to the prayers and instructions to the mass.  All of these changes required us to have a new translation of the 2000 missal.  However, in the 30 years between the writing of these two books many things have changed, including our understanding of the best way to translate our prayer books.

Now, at the risk of putting you to sleep allow me to speak a little bit about the art of translation.  There is an old Italian adage that goes Traduttore, traditore: to translate is to betray. In a way, translate means to hand over.  The idea here is that we hand over the thoughts of an author into another language.

But, we shouldn't think so negatively because we deal with translation all the time.  What language was used in the writing of the bible?  The Old Testament was largely written in Hebrew with some Greek.  The New Testament was written wholly in Greek.  So if you have ever picked up a bible to read it chances are you were reading a translation, unless we have some Greek and Hebrew scholars out there.  But, we should remember that even these gospels are translations.  What language did Jesus speak?  While we cannot say for sure that he didn't know some Greek or Latin we can be sure that he spoke Aramaic which was the language of his time and place.  So, even the gospels themselves are translations.  Soon after their writing, Latin began to replace Greek as the lingua Franca of the ancient world.  Church fathers like Jerome quickly set about to put the bible into the language of the people.  That is what the Latin vulgate is all about.  Vulgate means vulgar or language of the people.  That is why Latin was accepted as the language of the church.

However, for reasons that are hard to explain in the short amount of time that we have, Latin became the official language of the western church.  Latin is still the official language of the church.  Only now we are encouraged to pray in our vernacular languages.  It is still recommended, however, that we all know some Latin especially priests and seminarians.  So there is nothing wrong with translations.

How many of you have ever learned a new language?  One of the things you quickly realize is that there is no exact science to translation.  Rather, there are many ways to say things in several languages.  The key is to try to say something in one language that means the same thing in another language.  For example, how do you say thank you in Spanish?  Gracias.  This is the word used for thanks.  But does this word actually mean thanks? It comes from Latin the phrase is gratias ago tibi which means to lead grace unto thee.  The idea here is that grace and favor should be given to the one who has done good to me: in a word, thanks.  But when we translate gracias as thanks, some of the flair and originality of the original language is missing.  Nothing we can really do about that...  To translate is to betray.

Now, let's talk about translation principles: first, dynamic equivalence.  This principle hold that a good translation is one in which the basic thought of the original language is rendered in the basic thought of the target language.  The best word we have to explain this process is paraphrase. 

A different principle is called formal equivalence.  This principle holds that a good translation does not so much bring the thought into the target language, rather it brings the actual words into the target language.  This could be summarized as a literal translation.

Now I should tell you that the last translation we had was a paraphrase where the new translation will be a literal translation.  I will talk more about why we made that switch in a few moments.

What we have been talking about is a little bit abstract.  Let's look at some texts and see what I mean.

Go over the Gloria in some detail.

So you see some of the differences between a paraphrase and a literal translation. Now, why did the church think it so important to make that switch?  The answers are found in this book: liturgiam authenticam, which is the 5th instruction on the vernacular translation of the roman liturgy.  As you can tell it sounds like a real page turning spell binder...  But it really is a beautiful little document.  It was issued at the behest of jp2 in 2001. With the new missal the pope wanted us to reexamine the way we translated liturgical texts.

This document explores the use of language in prayer.  It begins by citing Vatican II: 1. The Second Vatican Council strongly desired to preserve with care the authentic Liturgy, which flows forth from the Church's living and most ancient spiritual tradition, and to adapt it with pastoral wisdom to the genius of the various peoples so that the faithful might find in their full, conscious, and active participation in the sacred actions – especially the celebration of the Sacraments – an abundant source of graces and a means for their own continual formation in the Christian mystery.[1] 

     We are people who are part of a long and storied tradition.  We are not slaves to a precedent, rather we are inheritors of a rich history.  This history is concerned with the same thing that concerns us today: our continual formation in the Christian mysteries.  So the reforming of the liturgical books helps this process along.  However, the document contends that certain expectations should hold: (LA 3)  the greatest prudence and attention is required in the preparation of liturgical books marked by sound doctrine, which are exact in wording, free from all ideological influence, and otherwise endowed with those qualities by which the sacred mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church are efficaciously transmitted by means of human language to prayer, and worthy worship is offered to God the Most High.[3]

What does this look like?  In other words what kind of language fits this bill?  19. The words of the Sacred Scriptures, as well as the other words spoken in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments, are not intended primarily to be a sort of mirror of the interior dispositions of the faithful; rather, they express truths that transcend the limits of time and space. Indeed, by means of these words God speaks continually with the Spouse of his beloved Son, the Holy Spirit leads the Christian faithful into all truth and causes the word of Christ to dwell abundantly within them, and the Church perpetuates and transmits all that she herself is and all that she believes, even as she offers the prayers of all the faithful to God, through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.[19]

     Now for time's sake let me summarize few more of the basic concepts presented here.  The document states that the reform of the liturgy helps to accomplish these things.  Also it states that the work of translation itself furthers the reform.  But, some people might wonder why we have to stick with the Latin texts at all. The new Latin texts are themselves a work of reform and renewal.  We should remember that.

When it comes to translation there are some guidelines the language should be understandable.  But, it does not have to be everyday language.  In fact it is a good thing for us to develop a separate language for prayer.

One tendency in translation that should be avoided is the temptation to render everything that is implicit explicit.  Also the translation is not the place to explain difficult things.  For example, in the creed it is said that Jesus is consubstantial with the Father. Is this an easy word to understand? No, but we have translated it one in being, which might be an explanation of the word, but the Creed is not the place to explain the word.

Some have said that there is a desire to use language as it comes from culture.  This document says instead, wouldn't it be great if culture was influenced by the language of the liturgy.  This has already taken place if you think about it.  Don't people say, in a totally secular culture: mea culpa?  Now it is not super common but you could certainly imagine it.  That is a case where liturgy influences culture.

Allow me to summarize, there are two major points here which seem to be driving the new work of translation.  The first is accuracy.  The church has found in the past 30 years that it is better to be accurate even if it means that we use language that might not be the easiest to understand.  The important things that we are being faithful to the Latin original which the Church believes is able to lift our minds and hearts to the transcendent realm.  The second principle that we discover is related, the Church recommends that we develop a sacred vernacular.  This is a kind of language that we use for a certain purpose, namely to praise God.  This sacred vernacular will remind us what the mass is all about.

Here is where I would like to leave you with a few thoughts.  Remember that this talk was called "getting the most out of the mass." What is the liturgy?  Here is the definition I memorized in school: The liturgy is a complexus of sensible signs by means of which, God, in Christ and through Christ, in the Church and through the Church, sanctifies man; and Man, in the Church and through the Church, in Christ and through Christ, renders worship to God. This is what the liturgy is and this is what the liturgy does. I firmly believe that we have been doing this for 30 years. One thing I want to make clear is that the fact that we are getting a corrected translation is not to say that the Mass has been wrong for 30 years. It has been the Mass, where God sanctifies us and we worship God. But, this new translation will be an improvement. We will take something that is good and make it even better.

What can we do to prepare ourselves?

  • First thing to do is to evaluate the new prayer texts. Start to get familiar with them. Your handout contains the people's parts of the Mass. Look over them and see how they are changing.
  • Keep a positive attitude. The only person who likes change is the man wearing wet pants. Change can be hard. Especially when it comes to something as personally important as the Mass. This is the heart and summit of the Church's life, to change it might cause us some stress. But remember, we are not getting a new Mass, we are just getting a new translation.

I'm convinced that this new translation will help our prayer lives. First, this sacred vernacular will help us lift our minds and hearts into a more prayerful place. I find the language to be more beautiful.

21st Sunday Ordinary Time

CURRENT:

Father, help us to seek the values

that will bring us lasting joy in the changing world.

In our desire for what you promise

make us one in mind

and heart. Grant this…


 


 

NEW:

O God,

who shape the minds of the faithful to a single purpose,

grant your people to love what you command

and to desire what you promise, that,

amid the uncertainties of this world,

our hearts may be fixed where true joys are found.

Through our Lord…


 

Second, this new translation will cause us to stop and actually think about what we are saying. Many of us have so memorized the words of the creed, for example, that we just rattle off the fact that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, etc. A new translation will make us work a little, which might actually help us to recall the importance of what we are saying.

It has been said about other things, and it is certainly true of the Mass: you get out of the Mass what you put into it. The Mass is the greatest thing on earth. Yet, we can limit its effectiveness in our lives by our lack of participation. This new translation should continue to foster our participation in the Mass. It may require an effort on your part as you begin. Also, many of you will be asked to help your parish implement the new translation, so that means even more work. But, whatever you put into your preparation for the new missal will be paid back abundantly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bible Study

Hello everyone,

Sorry for the delay.  Here is the link to last week's audio recording. 

This should be a fun Bible study.  We will be going through 1st Corinthians.  A study like this allows us to take our time and really dig into this great work.  Don't worry if you miss a day.  I think you can still come and enjoy discussing any section of Paul's great letter.
God bless,
Fr Jake

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christ gives us a message of Hope:

32nd Sunday of ordinary time


 

    In today's reading from St Paul he gives us a beautiful little prayer: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. It seems to me that Jesus is doing this very thing in the gospel today. He tells us about the resurrection.

    As you may be aware we are coming to the end of ordinary time. In a few weeks we will celebrate the feast of Christ the king, which is the end of the church year. Every year around this time the readings for mass start to take on an eschatological dimension. Now, don't be afraid of this word. Eschatological means having to do with the last things: death, judgment, the end of the world etc. Now, from the perspective of Hollywood and many people in the world today, eschatology is frightening. When we think of the end of the world we see visions of earthquakes, tsunamis, and other terrifying things. And while these things might take place, they are not the focus of Christian eschatology. Rather, the focus of Christian eschatology is always the resurrection. And the resurrection is always good news. In fact it is central to the entire gospel message: those who believe in Christ, even if they die, will live forever. So Jesus is giving us good news indeed, the resurrection is certainly the encouragement and hope that Paul is talking about in his prayer today.

    What will the resurrection be like? To be honest we really do not know "eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has in store for those who love him." So whenever we are speaking about the resurrection we must remember that it is quite mysterious, the resurrection lies beyond the veil and it is clouded in mystery. That being said, we can say some things about the resurrection. First, we can say what the resurrection is not. The resurrection is not simply resuscitation. I think the Sadducees from today's gospel were under the impression that resurrection means we simply get up and keep living our human lives. Jesus corrects this mistaken concept. No, he says, the children of the age to come will be like the angels. So we will certainly be different. We should remember to read this passage in light of the rest of the Bible. Jesus says today that we will be like angels, but we read elsewhere that he will raise our mortal bodies to make them like his own in glory. We know that angels are spiritual beings without bodies, Jesus is not saying we will lose our bodies, he is just saying that our bodies will be spiritualized. What does this mean? We will find out on the last day.

    Still, Jesus does give us an insight into that last day. He tells us that they are neither given nor received in marriage. What could this mean? Marriage means "till death do us part," but what about the other side of eternity? Jesus tells us that we are not married in heaven. Why not? Marriage is a sacrament. Like all the sacraments, these are signs of eternal realities. When we experience these realities for ourselves the signs will pass away. What is being expressed in the sign of marriage? Love, right! Marriage is a sign of love, two people agree to give of themselves completely for the rest of their lives by a commitment of love. St Paul tells us in Ephesians that this is a sign for the relationship between Christ and his church. However, on the last day this sign will be fulfilled. There is no marriage in heaven, not because there is no love in heaven, there will be a fullness of love. The love between a married couple today is supposed to be the sign of love between God and the human race. On the last day we will experience this union in its fullness. No wonder we call this good news! What exactly will this look like? Eye has not seen, ear has not heard... But isn't it exciting? Doesn't it sound wonderful: complete and total union with God forever? Certainly this gives us the hope St Paul mentions in the second reading. It is this hope which brings our RCIA candidates and catechumens here today. They are seeking nothing less than to be with God forever. Let's continue to keep them in our prayers as they journey toward Easter.

    We believe that all those who are joined to Christ will be raised with him on the last day. But, we don't have to wait until then to experience this communion. Jesus said in John's gospel: I am the bread of life, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, even if he dies, will live and I will raise him up on the last day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life with Christ:

31st Sunday OT Year C:

Today we hear the interesting story of the conversion of Zacchaeus. It is certainly a story of conversion. Through an encounter with the person of Christ, the tax collector is transformed. But, I think there is more in the story. It not only tells us about how Christ can call people who don't know him; but, it also tells us how Christ can help us to deepen our relationship with him.

First, look again at the first line of the gospel: Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through it. This translation is a little bit clumsy. The Greek simply says "he entered and went through Jericho." This is not just a throw-away line introducing the parable. Rather, I think it means something more profound. Jesus is passing through the city, he makes himself available, he draws near to his people. Christ is no distant landlord; rather, he draws near, he passes through the city. How much more is this true after the resurrection! Jesus is no longer bound by space and time. Just as Jesus drew near to ancient Jericho, we know that Christ draws near to each one of us. Jesus is always passing by.

Next, look at Zacchaeus. What do we hear about him? First, he is a tax collector. We heard about a tax collector last week as well. Luke is showing us these characters to remind us that Jesus associates with sinners. Remember, in Luke's gospel we hear that Jesus is the good shepherd who leaves the 99 and goes in search of the lost sheep. This story of Zacchaeus is proof of this fact. Jesus passed through Jericho to find this lost sheep. This is still true today. Jesus passes through our "town." He doesn't run away from us, even though we are sinners. Rather, he continues to look for us, to seek us out. This fulfills what we hear in the first reading: God is the great lover of souls! God loves us so much that he sent his Son to seek out what was lost.

So, Jesus comes to us. What about our end of the relationship? The gospel tells us that Zacchaeus desired to see Jesus. What a beautiful way to put it! Even the sinner, says St. Luke, desires to see Jesus. Every human being has an innate desire to see Christ!

One thing I often ponder is the preaching of Jesus. What must that have been like, to hear Christ himself? What did he say? He must have been persuasive. Would I have followed him? I hope so. Worse yet, would I have even gone out to see him? It is easy to say that we would have gone out to meet Christ, but would we? Why did Zacchaeus seek him out: he wanted to see Jesus. In the person of Christ we encounter something that resonates with us: God's great love for the world! In Christ we find our origin and destiny. In the encounter with Christ we find the God who made us. We also find in Christ the communion between humanity and divinity. This is why JP2 always quoted Gaudium et Spes 22: it is Christ who fully reveals man to himself. Jesus shows us our origin and destiny. No wonder we want to see Jesus! This is why all people are innately drawn to this mystery. This is why Jesus was persuasive. Not so much what he said, but who he is, is persuasive.

Still, Zacchaeus knew that there were obstacles in his way. The gospel says he was short of stature. He would not let this get in his way, he climbed the tree. What keeps us from seeing Jesus in our lives? We know that Jesus is passing through, we know that he is always drawing near; but, there are things that keep us from seeing Jesus. Rather than give an exhaustive list, how about I just pick one that many of us deal with: time. Many of us fail to see Jesus because we are busy, there is little time. But if we are going to have a relationship with Christ, we have to spend time with him. We have to "see" him. It might take a heroic effort, but it is worth it. Carve out some time in your life. Start small if you have to: 5 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes in the afternoon. Don't let your crazy schedule keep you from seeing Jesus. Find some time to see Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. As you probably know, we have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament here at St. Matt's every Saturday morning from 11-12 during confessions, as well as a communal Holy Hour once per month. These are wonderful ways to see Jesus.

I think we would all like to be like Zacchaeus. We would all like to be converted in the same way by having an encounter with Christ so powerful that we leave behind all our sins. This story teaches us an important lesson. Before any conversion comes a desire to see Christ, followed by an encounter with Christ. Conversion is not a product of our best effort, it is a product of Christ working within us. This is St. Paul's prayer: we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith.