Sunday, August 31, 2014

Luke 19:1-10: Accepting the Invitation of God's Grace

"For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)

This passage has a deep, significant meaning for me.  When I received my first Holy Communion, I was a lector at the Mass.  The passage I read was this selection from Saint Luke’s Gospel.  As an eight-year-old, I remember vehemently reading and memorizing the passage so that my delivery would be poised and practiced.  Reflecting on those times, I vividly remember a picture of the small man Zacchaeus perched in a tree in order to see Jesus among the crowd.  That vision made a lasting psychological mark on me.  

Why does this tax collector want to climb a tree to see Jesus?  Being a child myself, I was “short in stature,” so I was mesmerized by Zacchaeus’ act of ascension to see the Son of Man. The meaning, then, clicked for me.  Zacchaeus had to rise above who he was, a loathed sinner, and accept the invitation of our Lord.  But it was our Lord who sought Zacchaeus first, not the other way around.  Even more, Jesus calls Zacchaeus by name.  He already intimately knows this seeming stranger, as he does every one of us.  And if we listen carefully, Christ calls us all by name and desires to shed His mercy and forgiveness on our sins. We have to accept that grace-filled invitation, however, as Zacchaeus does, and truly repent in our hearts. 

Jesus invites all of us to faith in Him. He wants us to embrace his love and forgiveness, just as Zacchaeus does, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and save the lost.” Let us thank God daily for offering us His mercy and forgiveness and, by His grace, raising us up from our low, sinful state. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Whitcomb's "Confession of a Roman Catholic"

"Confession of a Roman Catholic" by Paul Whitcomb

I read this short discourse in about an hour, for at the time it is available online for free. The essay is well written and to the point. Although brief, Whitcomb provides plenty of personal, subjective insight as well as relevant references to Scripture and the early church fathers.

Paul was a born-and-raised Protestant who, through devout faith, eventually became a Methodist minister. Throughout Paul's Protestant ministry, he thoroughly pursued the Scriptures trying to find answers regarding the variances in Protestant theology and doctrine. Paul exhausted local public library resources in his quest to find answers, but he kept coming back to the inconsistencies of Protestant theology. Unsettled in his inquiry, Paul experienced as serious but unexpected pull toward the Roman Catholic Church.

Paul writes with honesty and captivating truth, and I could not stop reading his compelling testimony. One of the many thought-provoking premises Paul uncovers is that the Roman Catholic Church, through Christ's commission in Matthew 28:18-20, carries on the assignment to teach not only what is written in Scripture but also those doctrines that St. Paul mentions as traditions of the Church in 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

Paul Whitcomb's confession speaks loudly to those who are looking for an answer to the hotly debated question "Why should I choose the Roman Catholic Church?" And his answer is solid and tightly wound in research, Scripture, and tradition. At a time when I, a practicing Roman Catholic, am prayerfully questioning some Catholic Church doctrines, this confession could not have come at a more relevant time for me.