If I were to ask you, “How much faith do you have?” What would you say? I think most of us would say, “It depends on the day, or even what time of day, for anyone who’s not really a morning person, before that first cup or two of coffee—believe me I understand!
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “This feast commemorates the dedication of the church of St. Mary, built in Jerusalem near the site of the Temple. Additionally, with Christians of the East, the Latin Church also remembers on this day the tradition according to which Mary as a small child, was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple” (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV, p. 1572).
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These are three questions that many people ask with sincerity—they ask them honestly: Why can't I pray in nature, which truly lifts my spirit up to God? Why do I have to be with others if I pray better on my own? Why couldn't I substitute my personal prayer for Mass if I'm very busy? I want to address these questions with gentleness and love because, as I said, I think many people ask them sincerely. And I'd like to begin with our Gospel passage which might be able to set us in the right direction.
Today's iconic symbols of cities include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In the first century, Jerusalem’s magnificent Temple was its icon. Every pilgrim to Jerusalem was deeply impressed by it. But Jesus wasn't impressed by what was going on in the temple. Jesus was downright angry.
Zacchaeus was wealthy and famous. Although he was a Jew, he enjoyed power and prestige in the society of the Romans because he was a rich tax collector. Zacchaeus’, the name means, “pure and clean” in Hebrew, but ironically, in the eyes of his contemporaries, he was considered “dirty,” dirty as the lepers and harlots. However, deep within him, he had a hunger for a forgiving God. Upon hearing that Jesus was passing through his town, he ventured out and climbed up a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of him.
There is a story about a little girl standing with her grandfather by an old-fashioned open well. They had just lowered a bucket and had drawn some water to drink. The little girl asked, “Where does God live?”