01 Nov 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
Only four more weeks until Advent and the beginning of a new Church Year! In the new Church Year we will hear from St. Matthew’s Gospel. As usual, I strongly recommend that you make the time to read the whole of the Gospel of Matthew. Try not to complete his stories by adding to them from memory of what you know from the other Gospels. Remember! Matthew will be speaking primarily to Jews and as such we will hear a great deal from the Prophets and how Jesus is the fulfillment of those prophecies.
On this 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, we hear once again a story of a tax collector. Last week, the tax collector recognized his sinfulness and begged for mercy. This week we see Zacchaeus humbling himself and going to extremes to see Jesus. His very being in the presence of Jesus prompted extremes of repentance and a pledge to do far more than what was expected for restitution.
A common theme in the Gospels is that of Jesus eating with the outcasts of society. By his occupation Zacchaeus had excluded himself from his people. He had thrown in his lot with the hated occupying power for the sake of money. This did not disqualify the tax collector from God’s saving power. Zacchaeus’ determination to see Jesus and his climbing up into the sycamore tree are taken as a sign of genuine faith. By entering Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus dramatizes the coming of divine salvation. Zacchaeus’ promise to restore what he had extorted from his fellow Jews is a measure of his repentance. It went far beyond the legal requirements of restitution. Now he was able to hear the word: “Today salvation has come to this house,” that is, to him and his whole household.
The story of Zacchaeus is the story of someone who went from a life of sin to a life of service. It is the story of someone who opened his heart to God and had that heart filled with a joy that he never dreamed to be possible. Jesus wants to enter our lives too and change them for the better. Jesus doesn’t force Himself upon us. He leaves us free.
Jesus often walks into our lives. When He does, we need only reach out to Him and He will do for us what He did for Zacchaeus.
Our High School Youth will be on retreat next weekend. Please keep them and the team in prayer. May all you do this week be with the awareness of God’s great love for you! Peace and Blessings!