Gospel: Here is something that may upend how you see today's Gospel, the story of Zacchaeus (Lk 19). Basically, the translations that most Bibles use are inaccurate, as Joseph Fitzmyer, SJ, points out in The Anchor Bible Series; as does Luke Timothy Johnson in Sacra Pagina...
The usual translation is that upon being welcomed by Jesus, Zacchaeus undergoes a conversion experience, and promises to give half of his money to the poor and repay anyone he has defrauded four times over--in the future. Here is the NAB, which we read at Mass today:
"Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much."

But that's not accurate. As Johnson writes, "In both sentences Zacchaeus uses the present tense..."
I.e., what Jesus is revealing is that this person on the margins, this hated tax collector, is *already* doing something generous.

A more accurate translation is "I *am giving* half of my possessions to the poor and if I have cheated someone I *make* fourfold restitution..."
The translation is from Johnson. The Greek is δίδωμι (didomi) and ἀποδίδωμι (apodidomi): "I give" and "I restore." Not "I will give" or "I will restore."

Zacchaeus is not promising something in the future, he is saying he does it already...
I've often used this Gospel story to illustrate Jesus's reaching out to those on the margins and in the past I've said that when welcomed, the person undergoes a kind of conversion. Often I relate it to the welcome the church is called to give to LGBTQ people....
But the story is much more wonderful than that. What Jesus has revealed to the crowd is that this person is already generous.

When we think of this in terms of marginalized people in our church, like LGBT people, it is a reminder that despite their "image" they are...
...often more loving, more generous and more compassionate than anyone in the "crowd" suspects.

And so it is not so much Zacchaeus who is called to conversion. It is the crowd.

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More from @JamesMartinSJ

16 Nov
On a day when Pope Francis praised the new book of
@MikeOLoughlin, an openly gay man, I was happy to participate in a panel at Gesu Church, a Jesuit parish in Detroit, on welcoming #LGBTQ parishioners. More on Gesu here: gesudetroit.com
Here is the beautiful welcome statement from Gesu's website:

"You are welcome! Reflecting the welcome that Jesus Christ offers to all, Gesu Parish welcomes every person to seek full participation in our parish community and within the Body of Christ....
"We believe that all are worthy of respect and love, because all are created in the image of God. Our welcome is not limited by a person's age, sex, race, cultural background, physical or mental health or ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, social or economic....
Read 5 tweets
7 Nov
Gospel: The story of the "widow's mite," where a poor widow gave "all she had" to the Temple, is usually held up as Jesus's praise of her generosity (Mk 12). But is it? Some NT scholars say Jesus is actually critiquing religious authorities who are exploiting the poor....
This entry from "Sacra Pagina" (Donahue and Harrington) on this passage is eye-opening:

"The widow is surely generous. But is she generous to a fault? Does Jesus really approve her action? Thus far in Mark 11-12 the Jerusalem Temple and its officials have been treated...
...from a critical perspective (see especially 11:15-19) and in 13:2 Jesus will prophesy the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple--an event that was to occur in 70 CE under the Romans. Thus the context of Mk 12:41-44 raises the question whether the generosity...
Read 6 tweets
6 Nov
Gospel: "You cannot serve God and mammon," says Jesus today (Lk 16). The word "mammon" derives from the Hebrew word for money or wealth. But why can't you "serve two masters"? For one thing, your focus will be on the wrong thing. If you make decisions thinking, "How will this... Image
...serve God?" then you will lead a life of love, mercy and compassion. If you make decisions thinking, "How will this make me more money?" then you will lead a different kind of life. Obviously, everyone needs some money to live and to flourish. But when money becomes...
...the thing around which your life is ordered, then it has become a god. Often people smile when they read the First Commandment: "You shall have no other gods before me." They think, "Well, of course, I don't worship little idols or false gods." But if your life revolves...
Read 4 tweets
2 Nov
Gospel: On #AllSoulsDay we remember all the "faithful departed" who enjoy new life with God.

Often it's hard for people to believe in the afterlife. But Jesus tells his disciples many times, as in today's Gospel (Jn 6); he shows them with the raising of the dead (Lazarus... Image
...The Widow of Nain's Son, Jairus's Daughter); and then he reveals it definitively at his own Resurrection.

But you can also think of it this way: God loved us into being and loves us for our whole life. God enters into a loving relationship with us at our conception...
… Why would God end that relationship? It makes no sense. God would never end the loving relationship God has with you. Even death cannot end it. Trust in Jesus's promises about what God has in store for believers: eternal life.
Read 4 tweets
25 Oct
Another #LGBTQ person fired, this time from two positions, as a teacher and a parish music minister, and also pressured to sign a "gag order" in order to collect his severance. Here, he explains to his students and those in his parish what happened...
The targeting of LGBTQ people in the Catholic Church must stop. It destroys lives, as well as communities. No other group in the church is targeted in this way....
Usually LGBTQ employees are fired because their lives do not "fully convey or support church teaching" (as one archdiocese requires). But by this measure, Catholic institutions would have to fire all Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and agnostics...
Read 4 tweets
24 Oct
Gospel: Today Jesus heals a blind beggar in Jericho named Bartimaeus (Mk 10). Two things leap out of the story: 1) Jesus does not impose himself on the blind man, who cries out "Son of David, have pity on me." No, first Jesus asks him, "What do you want me to do for you?"...
Jesus does not decide to "get it over with" and heal him. Instead he treats Bartimaeus with infinite dignity, and and listens to his desires. God wants to know our deepest desires.

2) In a large city towards the end of his ministry, when he would have been surrounded by...
....huge crowds, Jesus stops to meet an individual. He is never too busy to help someone in need, even if he himself is surrounded by people or on his way elsewhere. (Something similar happens in the healing of the "woman with the hemorrhage," while he is on his way...
Read 4 tweets

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