31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

WALKING TALL - Dignity - Responsibility - Anthropology - Practicality

  • “… this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
  • The first point is that Christ is talking about dignity, a dignity that has to do with your humanity. Your humanity is exactly the same humanity as Christ’s humanity.
  • The second point is that with this dignity is attached responsibility
  • This means that no matter WHO you are or WHAT you do, everything that you might do, large or small, if joined with Christ, has inestimable value and can be used by Christ to bring about his Kingdom and help save the world - or at least a part of it.
  • This is genuine, Catholic anthropology.

This then begs the question that each of us must ask: “What about practicality? What do I need to do to serve you Lord?”

If John of the Cross were your spiritual director and you went to him with some moral flaw or character deficiency, his first counsel would be: Ok, fine BUT:

  • What are you good at?
  • With what have you been blessed by The Lord?
  • Where - in your life and in your work - does God’s goodness and beauty most shine through? light-in-the-darkness
  • Being who you are, doing what you’re good at, putting your gifts and talents at the disposal of The Lord, THAT is walking tall.

If you can grow more and more towards that goodness, it will fan into an ever larger flame which eventually will become a fire that cauterizes your faults. Then, like Zacchaeus, you walk tall, and there will be less and less room for what’s small and petty in your life to manifest itself.

Practically how to determine this?

  1. Strength Finders by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton published by the Gallop Organization. Have identified 34 distinct attributes of which a person might possess several which are a person’s “strengths.” Examples: achiever, communicate, developer, responsibility, restoration.
  2. Spiritual Gifts Inventory by Sherry Weddell and Dominican Father Michael Sweeney at the Catherine of Siena Institute.
  3. Identify 24 biblically based “charisms” within the general areas of Shepherding, Serving, Strengthening, Salvation, Spiritual Insights.


  • God will speak to you through your gifts - to understand your call - to discern your gifts - and strengthen your relationship to him.
  • God will also help you to determine how to place these gifts and talents at the service of the Kingdom and to support your vocation.

St Paul writing about “walking Tall” in II Thessalonians 1:11: “Brothers and sisters: We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call for you to walk tall - and to powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose of your life and every effort of your faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.”

Awesome God, We know you are above and beyond us and this universe is like a dewdrop to you. So much greater you are, so far beyond our limits.

And yet, you pitch your tent among us and dwell in our every day.

  • It’s interesting to note that the word “Gospel” means “good news,” not “good advice.”
  • The gospels are not so much a spiritual and moral theology book that tell us what we should be doing, but are more an account of what God has already done for us in His relationship to us.
  • Morality is not a command. It’s an invitation; not a threat, but a reminder of who we truly are, and an invitation to become taller than we are.

Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to observe Jesus. What would you do if you wanted to “see” where the Holy Spirit is and what the Holy Spirit is doing in the world today?

Jesus does not say anything about conversion, or giving up his day-job, or his fortune. Jesus says only that he desires to stay with this fellow. Zacchaeus is re-sized to his dignity.

Please tell it to us, Lord, that you mean to stay at our home this day.

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