Oct. 30, 2016: 31st Sunday Ordinary C
Click to hear Audio Homily
Do you remember the time when you longed to experience the presence of Jesus? Perhaps you were going through a significant change in your life and you were uncertain of the future. Or perhaps, even after trying out everything that the world had to offer, you felt that something was missing in your life? St. Augustine was an intelligent man who tried everything in order to fill the void in his life--relationships, philosophies, finer things in life. At the age of 32, when he was vacationing with a friend, he heard a voice of a child singing a song, the words of which were, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” Realizing that this song might be a command from God to open and read the Scriptures, he located a Bible, picked it up, opened it and read the first passage he saw. The passage was from the Letter of Paul to the Romans. Augustine read:
“Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13: 13-14) Reading this passage, Augustine felt as if his heart were flooded with light. He turned totally from his life of sin and requested to enter into Catholic Church. Augustine composed the following prayer recalling that experience:
“Late have I loved you...You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was far from you...You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.”
We may believe that we have to search for God in order to be in his presence, but actually it’s the otherway around as learned in today’s Gospel. Zacchaeus, a tax collector despised by the town folk, was drawn to get a glimpse of Jesus. Because he was physically short, he had to climb a tree to see him. Upon reaching the tree, Jesus shouted out, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Jesus sought out Zacchaeus--not the other way around. That encounter changed Zacchaeus to turn around his life of selfishness and sins to live a new life of charity and generosity.
Often we see ourselves as small, and we are unable to view Jesus because of our blindness and sins. Failure to live out our calling diminishes us and distorts our vision. In order to bring Christ into focus in our lives, we have to “climb up” to see our failures and repent. Then we must commit to a new of living with Christ as our focal point.
The Good News is that Jesus seeks us out and comes to us right where we are. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who will even leave behind the 99 to go in search of the one lost sheep. He seeks us out not because we’re so good but because he’s so good. He loves us not because we deserve it but because we desperately need it. He is attracted to our weakness, brokenness, and sin. Like Zacchaeus and St. Augustine, when we trust in God’s love enough to admit our failings, we can receive his gift of mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina, “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy.”
What special efforts will I make in the coming week to put Jesus into clearer focus in my life? In what way can I overlook the sin of others and also be humble enough to admit our faults to others?