Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
October 30, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Wisdom 11:22-12:2 | Psalm 145:1-2;8-11;13-14
II Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 | Luke 19:1-10
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
When I was a child growing up in Livingston, New Jersey, every year during Advent, my family would go to New York City to see the Christmas Show put on by Radio City Music Hall. But when I was very young, around 3 or 4 years old, I found New York to be quite frustrating to see all the sights unless my father would perch me up on his shoulders, enabling me to rise above the crowds of people in order to see everything.
So, you can just imagine how Zacchaeus from today’s Gospel felt since he was a man of short stature.
Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector in Jericho and was a very wealthy man since he probably benefited from the taxes people paid and also the fees and fines collected from the people. He was also quite unpopular and probably didn’t have many friends. However, Zacchaeus must have come to the realization that his life needed to change, and he was determined to see Jesus. But since Zacchaeus was such a short man, the only way he could see Jesus was to somehow get above the crowd of people. So he decided to climb a Sycamore tree in order to get above the crowd, where he would have a clear view of Jesus when He walked by.
We are reminded in our first reading from Wisdom that God loves everyone He created and forgives us for our sins once we acknowledge them. God is merciful as stated in our reading, “But you have mercy on all because you can do all things, and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.”
Although many people claim they want to follow God, some are unwilling to put God first in their lives, ahead of their own desires for money, power, and pleasure. The Book of Wisdom reminds them today that God rebukes offenders little by little, warning them of the sins they are committing so that they can abandon their wickedness and follow God’s will. This is the true nature of God’s mercy.
The message from today’s Gospel from Luke is also reminding us to follow Jesus. Zaccheaus wants to change his life from that of a greedy self-centered sinner to one who acknowledges his sins and changes to become a true disciple of Jesus. Jesus invites us all to follow His way of living by loving others regardless of their race, sexual identity, social or economic status, ethnicity, physical or mental abilities, etc. Jesus wants us to come to the realization that life is not about getting our own personal pleasure, joy, or happiness but also about enabling others to live their lives as valued and loved children of God.
In our second reading from Second Thessalonians, Paul tells us to continue our faith without being led astray with fake news of the parousia. We must continue living our lives and continuing our mission of doing good deeds just as Jesus wants us to do.
The story of Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel shows us how a merciful Jesus comes into our lives to save us. Just as Jesus spotted Zacchaeus perched up in the tree, Jesus sees us every day, and His presence is known through our friends, our families, our pets, sometimes even perfect strangers, and the church and it’s sacraments.
Do you recognize Him? How much effort do you make in trying to be close to Jesus?
–Do you faithfully attend church every Sunday?
–Do you participate in receiving Holy Communion in person each week: either by attending Mass or scheduling a private time with Fr. David or your own priest if you are watching virtually?
–Are you generous in giving to the church, the poor, and the needy?
Would you like to have Jesus call you by name, just as He did for Zacchaeus?
Zacchaeus learned from Jesus that giving to others is much more rewarding than amassing great wealth for oneself; he also learned that it is much better to love all people and to be kind than it is to be hateful and mean.
The manner in which Jesus responded to Zacchaeus was not one of scolding him about his wrongful behavior; instead, Jesus treated Zacchaeus with respect by telling him he would visit him at his house. This gave Zacchaeus the confidence to grow and change.
“Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”, Jesus states about Zacchaeus.
Listening to Jesus brings out the good in all of us.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.”