(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, October 30, 2016)
Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our first reading today from the Book of Wisdom reminds us how tiny we appear to God, who has a whole view of earth: "Before the Lord, the whole universe is a grain from a balance!" Nevertheless, He despises nothing of what He has created, and shows boundless mercy and love toward all persons who repent of ignoring or disobeying His laws.
In the Gospel, Jesus shows the shocked crowd how that works in practice. It's a good thing that God doesn't leave it to us to decide who is worthy of heaven and who isn't. We'd make a mess of it! We are really poor judges. The crowds have been witnessing Jesus' miracles with growing enthusiasm.
A few have noticed a little man standing on his tip toes, trying to get a glimpse of Jesus. Most recognize him as the hated chief tax collector of the area, a very rich man named Zacchaeus. A few avoid contact as he suddenly drops his dignity and runs to climb a nearby sycamore tree. He wants a better view.
As Jesus passes underneath, He glances up and spots the man. Jesus' gaze penetrates into the heart of Zacchaeus ,and contritely he stares back at Jesus. "Zacchaeus, come down quickly," Jesus says, "I want to have dinner with you today." The crowd gasps in disbelief and revulsion that the Healer would have anything to do with this despised sinner.
As the delighted little man explains to Jesus how he means to make up for his many sins, Jesus turns and explains to the crowd, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man, too, is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost." Beautiful words that so harmonize with what we heard in today's first reading from the Book of Wisdom.
No matter what we've done in the past, the mercy of the Lord can search us out, inspire us to repentance, and then embrace us as His own. God never gives up on those the world has condemned as hopeless, for as the first reading proclaims, He is "a lover of souls" and He alone will decide who gets into heaven and who doesn't!
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor