Saints, Souls and Zacchaeus

Reflections on forthcoming Mass readings. Note: More guides are available under “Don’t Miss.”

Sunday, Oct. 31, is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Liturgical Year C, Cycle II).


On Nov. 4 at 11:30am at the Altar of the Chair, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass for cardinals and bishops who died over the course of the year.


Oct. 31: Halloween on a Sunday can be an excellent opportunity to put the day in perspective.

All Hallows’ Eve is the vigil of All Saints’ Day — and Sunday in the Church is a recollection of the first Easter, the day Christ rose from the dead.

Sunday made sainthood possible. If Christ hadn’t risen from the dead, he never would have founded a Church that passed on the sacraments.

If Christ hadn’t founded the Church to pass on the sacraments, his life would never have been shared with people in all times and places. If he hadn’t shared his life, then people wouldn’t have the opportunity to share directly in his holiness.

Ask your children what this Sunday night would be like without this Sunday morning.

If the world had never been freed from sin and death, Halloween haunting wouldn’t just be spooky make-believe: It would be the terrifying reality of a world in the grip of evil. That would be no fun at all.

Nov. 1: All Saints’ Day. Though it’s not a holy day of obligation this year since it falls on Monday, it’s a wonderful day to go to Mass and ask for the intercession of all those in heaven — canonized and uncanonized alike.

Nov. 2: All Souls’ Day. The tradition today is to visit a graveyard and pray for the dead. Remind your children that it is a Christian duty to pray for the souls in purgatory.


Wisdom 11:22-12:1; Psalms 145:1-2, 8-14; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10

Our Take

This Sunday we offer Pope Benedict XVI’s take on one of his favorite Gospel characters: Zacchaeus. The Pope has spoken about Zacchaeus on several occasions. At a Nov. 4, 2007, Angelus, he said:

“Today, the liturgy presents for our meditation the well-known Gospel episode of Jesus’ meeting with Zacchaeus in the city of Jericho. Who was Zacchaeus? A rich man who was a ‘publican’ by profession, that is, a tax collector for the Roman authorities, hence, viewed as a public sinner. Having heard that Jesus would be passing through Jericho, the man was consumed by a great desire to see him, and because he was small of stature, he climbed up into a tree. Jesus stopped exactly under that tree and addressed him by name: ‘Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’

“What a message this simple sentence contains!

“‘Zacchaeus’: Jesus called by name a man despised by all. ‘Today’: Yes, this very moment was the moment of his salvation. ‘I must stay’: Why ‘I must’? Because the Father, rich in mercy, wants Jesus ‘to seek and to save the lost.’

“The grace of that unexpected meeting was such that it completely changed Zacchaeus’ life: ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ Once again, the Gospel tells us that love, born in God’s heart and working through man’s heart, is the power that renews the world.”

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito says of discerning one’s college choice, ‘There has to be something that tugs at you and makes you want to investigate it further. And then the personal encounter comes in the form of a visit or a chat with a student or alumnus who communicates with the same enthusiasm or energy about the place. And then that love of a place can be a seed which germinates in your own heart through prayer.’

Choose a College With a Discerning Mind and Heart

Cistercian Father Thomas Esposito, assistant professor of theology at the University of Dallas (UD) and subprior (and former vocations director) of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Dallas, drew from his experience as both a student and now monastic religious to help those discerning understand the parallels between religious and college discernment.