Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI
Reflection for Oct. 30, 2022

Reflection for Oct. 30, 2022

To infinity

Story of Zaccheus illustrates  God's transformative love

by Sister Francis Bangert

The readings today offer us a reflection on the magnitude of Divine Mercy. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life”. One of Webster’s definitions for “so” is very or very much. The sentence would then read, “God so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o loved the world" …to infinity. This Majestic Creator before whom “the whole universe is as a grain from a balance (weighing scale) or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth”, has mercy on all. This Awesome One “loves all things and loathes nothing that has been made."

The story of Zaccheus in today’s Gospel gives us a concrete example of this mercy. Zaccheus is a Jew by birth, a chief and unjust tax collector working for Roman-occupied Jericho. Besides collecting exorbitant taxes for a foreign government making him a traitor, he added extra money for himself, greedy actions which did not live up to his name “pure” or “innocent”.

This Transcendent One, now Emmanuel (God with us), offers Zaccheus an opportunity to change his ways. Jesus calls him by name to come down from the tree, his comfort zone, and invites himself to the home of Zaccheus. Receiving such a gentle, nonjudgmental invitation motivates Zaccheus to come clean and to pay back all and even more in restitution. Transformation and salvation have come to him for Jesus, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.

Reflection questions:
  1. What might keep us from receiving mercy from God? From another?
  2. What might prevent us from giving mercy to another?


Irene Whatley
10/28/2022 10:06 am

My burdens the last few years and my feelings for it might make me unworthy of God’s kindness. I need to accept my cross and present a happier face to my family and friends. I need prayers.

10/28/2022 10:29 am

Thank you for the first part of your refleciton. "God so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o loved the world." What a good reminder for all of us!

Loretta Derocher
10/28/2022 11:16 am

Dear Sister Fran,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful and challenging commentary. I loved when you wrote that God

soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo loved the world. We can never add enough ooooooooooo's!

For me, what would keep me from receiving mercy from God or others is guilt. What might prevent me from giving mercy to others is anger and unforgiveness. I pray that we all may be on the giving and receiving end of God's mercy. Blessings of Peace to YOU, Loretta

10/28/2022 1:07 pm

Wonderful reminder of God’s infinite love and mercy. He wants us to be joyfilled every day knowing we are His children.

Debbie Tahany
10/28/2022 1:49 pm

I am not sure why, but I have met several folks this week who bear the cross of being unable to forgive themselves for events in their recent or past history. I think Zaccheus had plenty to be forgiven of...I pray for those who carry the burden of not being able to forgive themselves. May they feel the invitation to "let go and let God forgive them". Come Holy Spirit.

Thanks, Sr. Francis

10/29/2022 12:56 pm

For sensitive, caring souls, it's easy to become hard on ourselves, and judge ourselves as 'never good enough' for all the Good and Kindness and Mercy and Love that God is.

For others who seem deprived of a conscience, without empathy or caring for the sufferings and violations of others, it's difficult to understand how they cannot feel remorse or regret or some type of repentant accountability for their words and actions that have caused so much deadly harm to others.

As Sister Fran points out so well, Zaccheus is a role model for each and all of us.

A 'healthy' self-awareness, a sincere and honest self-examination of attitudes that keep us 'stuck' in a negative spiral, or even just reminding ourselves that gratitude for the beauty and wonder of Nature is a prayer, itself -- and a 'healing prayer,' at that -- each of these practices bring to fruition the reality of what the writer of Wisdom knew:

"... you spare all things, because they are yours,

O LORD and lover of souls,

for your imperishable spirit is in all things!

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!" (Wisdom 11:26; 12:1-2)

And then we have Zaccheus, who shows us what a "humble, contrite, and penitent heart" looks like. And how JESUS "chooses" just such a person to become one of his closest and dearest friends.

Thus, being friends of JESUS, and knowing his deep and gracious love for us, just as we are, in all our human-ness, we each and all can proclaim the psalm with JOY:

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

The LORD is faithful in all his words

and holy in all his works.

The LORD lifts up all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.

"Deo Gracias!"

Sandra Heinzl
10/30/2022 10:37 am

New picture but still beautiful smile, Sr. Fran! Thank for your words of wisdom.

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