Category Archives: Sacred Scripture

Zacchaeus found mercy

We are fast approaching the end of the secular year, and certainly the liturgical year. The Church ends her journey on the calendar year on the Solemnity of Christ the King, in 2103 this feast falls on 24 November. Slowly, the Church helps us to encounter and dialogue with conversion in a very serious way: times are changing… New England experiences a change in temperature, other parts of the world are getting rains, other parts are in their summer –we can experience something different to the environment and so why not be aware of the interior changes happening within. Today, the 31st Sunday through the liturgical year has us hearing the biblical narrative of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) , a man who knows he is neither right with God nor with fellow men. The desires of his heart moved Zacchaeus to find a way to see the Lord and yet the Lord first spoke to Zacchaeus: come down, I am coming to where you live now. Are you and I going to allow the Lord into our home?

Saint Cyril of Alexandria offers us a keen reflection: “Zacchaeus was leader of the tax collectors, a man entirely abandoned to greed, whose only goal was the increase of his gains. This was the practice of the tax collectors, although Paul calls it idolatry, possibly as being suitable only for those who have no knowledge of God. Since they shamelessly, openly professed this vice, the Lord very justly joined them with the prostitutes, saying ‘The prostitutes and the tax collectors go before you into the kingdom of God.’ Zacchaeus did not continue to be among them, but he was found worthy of mercy at Christ’s hands. He calls near those who are far away and gives light to those who are in darkness.”

Mercy is love without boundaries.

Bible study resources

Bible study Catholics is no longer optional. Everything, and I mean everything in the Church, must be dependent on sacred Scripture, even the Magisterium. I came across this quote from Bishop Christopher Butler, OSB, which may be a bit cheeky, but to my mind it shows the degree of seriousness that we ought to think in biblical terms, “It is all very well for us to say and believe that the Magisterium is subject to holy Scripture. But is there anybody who is in a position to tell the Magisterium: ‘Look, you are not practicing your subjection to Scripture in your teaching’?” (in JJ Miller, ed., Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal, 1966). Indeed, we all need to be subject to Revelation.

We need to keep on top of our study and love of God’s revealed word: the study of Scripture is a non-negotiable for Catholics if they think they are going to be saved on the Last Day. Pope Benedict spoke of lectio divina as the springtime of the Church and organizations like the American Bible Society have spent lots of time and money trying to help Christians, including Catholics, to the biblical narrative of redemption.

Here are some bible resources:

Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu

Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum)

The Letter of Saint Athanasius on the Interpretation of the Psalms

Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI (Baker Brazos Press, 2009).

Scott Hahn, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and The Eucharist in the Early Church (Image, 2013)

Richard John Neuhaus, ed., Biblical Interpretation in Crisis: The Ratzinger Conference on Bible and the Church, (Eerdmans, 1989).

Some other things to have on your shelf, virtual or otherwise:

Understanding the the readings of the Liturgy (scroll down on the calendar to the month and day and click on the link)

Scott Hahn’s website, the Saint Paul Center for Biblical Theology

Scott Hahn also has a great short summary of the Sunday readings that you can get sent free via e-mail once a week

Lord, increase our faith –educate us to see

mustard seedThe Church hears in the gospel for the 27th Sunday Through the Year Lord’s reference to the parable of the Mustard Seed (Luke 17:5-10). The teaching of the Mustard Seed also appears in Mark 4:30-32 and Matthew 17:20.

When the apostles say to Jesus, “Increase our faith,” He responds, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

Today, we could easily hear in the desire of the apostles: educate us to see, to know, to experience this Kingdom you are talking about. Perhaps we can relate the concern the apostles present to what Saint Anselm famously said, ours is a “Fides quaerens intellectum” (a faith seeking understanding; or, faith is a trust in God, a love for God, the lens by which we we seek to know what a deep trust in God means in a concrete way connecting the dots of life).

The holy bishop of Hippo tells us,

A mustard seed looks small. Nothing is less noteworthy to the sight, but nothing is stronger to the taste. What does that signify but the very great fervor and inner strength of faith in the Church?

Sofia Cavalletti taught us, “The person who at a certain point becomes aware of the dynamic nature of the Kingdom of God, which is like a mustard seed, will gradually come to see this dynamism filling the universe and empowering man and his history” (Religious Potential of the Child, 165). Hence, the teaching is a recognition that faith as a gift of God is enclosed within our hearts, “like the pearl of great value and the mustard seed.”

This education in the faith may be connected with a reflection Father Luigi Giussani has,

“As a result of the education I received at home, my seminary training, and my reflections later in life, I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction, so much so that even theology for a long time had given in to a faith separated from life. Showing the relevance of faith to life’s needs, and therefore – and this ‘therefore’ is important –showing that faith is rational, implies a specific concept of rationality. When we say that faith exalts rationality, we mean that faith corresponds to some fundamental, original need that all men and women feel in their hearts.” (Luigi Giussani, The Risk of Education, pp. 11-12).

Indeed, Lord, increase in us the desire to be with you.

Saint Jerome

Today we liturgically remember Saint Jerome (340-420). Because the sacred Liturgy is our first theology, let me quote the opening collect prayed at Mass:

O God, who gave the Priest Saint Jerome a living and tender love for Sacred Scripture, grant that your people may be ever more fruitfully nourished by your Word and find in it the fount of life.

And from the Communion collect:

…stir up the hearts of your faithful so that, attentive to sacred teachings, they may understand the the path they are to follow and, by following it, obtain life everlasting.

The controlling ideas the Church wants us to focus on are namely, that we have a living and tender love for Scripture with the hope that we would be nourished by it and find in Scripture a source of life. Likewise, our understanding this path we may enter into heaven. Christians: we are to walk toward the light of everlasting life. Indeed. Jerome is one of our guides in our study of Scripture.

Jerome was born in Dalmatia (present day Croatia). Having studied in Rome and he was baptized there before being ordained a priest in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. Recognizing his giftedness, Pope Damasus called Jerome to Rome to serve as his secretary; following the death Damasus, Jerome went East again, that is, Bethlehem, where he was active in building projects: a monastery, a hospice, and a school. His intellectual gifts were set on translating the Bible into the vernacular Latin. We still us Jerome’s biblical translation (with some revisions) today. His letters and commentaries on Holy Scripture still give insight. He is honored with being a Doctor of the Church.

And, likely his most famous line is noted in today’s Office of Readings from Jerome’s prologue of the commentary on Isaiah:

I interpret as I should, following the command of Christ: Search the Scriptures, and Seek and you shall find. Christ will not say to me what he said to [others]: “You erred, not knowing the Scriptures and not knowing the power of God.” For if, as Paul says, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, and if the man who does not know Scripture does not know the power and wisdom of Gods, then ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

10 Biblical Verses leading to Catholicity

Lord God, your words were found and I consumed them;

your word became the joy and happiness of my heart. (Jer. 15:16)

10 Biblical Verses that lead to a deeper, more vibrant Catholic faith:

1. Matthew 16:18-19 / Isaiah 22:22 (Authority)

2. 1 Timothy 3:15 (Authority)

3. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Tradition)

4. 1 Peter 3:21 (Baptism)

5. John 20:23 (Confession)

6. John 6:53-58, 66-67 (Eucharist)

7. 1 Corinthians 11:27 (Eucharist)

8. James 5:14-15 (Anointing)

9. Colossians 1:24 (Suffering)

10. James 2:17- 26 (Works)

This is what you’ll call evangelical Catholicism: relying on the scripture base your faith. The first question we have to ask ourselves: What does Scripture reveal? These bible verse are ones it is said, that Protestants Cannot Accept (without becoming Catholic). Blessed feast of Saint Jerome, patron saint of biblical scholars.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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