Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Very often in life we might feel lost because we are in a new situation in life, like school, and be looking for our individuality in a crowd. Very often we might feel lost because we just feel like a functionary in our job or even our homes. Very often we might feel lost because life has forced us to take a huge change in direction due to sickness or death. These feelings are really normal, part of life. What is not normal, or at least not meant to be normal, is when we are separated from the reason for our existence. When we are separated from Christ, we are really lost. So, we do this or that to fill our days. We join in with the crowd and do the things that are expected of an immoral or at least an amoral person. And we lose contact with the reason for our being. We lose contact with Jesus Christ[1].

We go to the place we know we should not be. We are with the person that we know we should not be with. We do what we should not do, because it feels good, or because everyone else is doing it and we want to fit in.  “No one is going to tell me what is right or wrong,” we claim, including in that “no one” that voice within us called conscience. Very often we choose immorality. Or we refuse to stand up for what is right. We refuse to proclaim our Christianity with our lives. We say we will not make a decision on whether an action is right or wrong. We are too politically correct for that. We become amoral. And the results of being immoral or amoral is that we lose ourselves in a crowd of humanity. We lose contact with Christ.

Zacchaeus, the little tax collector of today’s Gospel was lost. He was rejected by his own people for cashing in on the Roman occupation and collecting taxes for the enemy, keeping an ample amount for himself. He hid behind his riches. But he was a lost soul. And then one day he heard a crowd coming. They were there to greet this Jesus, this Messiah. Zacchaeus was initially nothing more than curious. He climbed a tree to get a glimpse of the great man. But then Jesus stopped under the tree and called him. The Good Shepherd found the lost sheep[2]. Zacchaeus came down from the tree and pledged himself to God. Half of my belonging I give to the poor.  If I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay him back four fold.

 “Today, Zacchaeus, salvation has come to this house.” Zacchaeus was lost no longer. Jesus had found him, and he responded. He now found himself in Jesus Christ.
As pastor, as a priest, I am sure that many of us have had times that we have really been lost. I was loot indeed in certain moment of my life. We go to Church every week, and that is a very good thing. But sometimes we are just going through the motions. We stand and sit and kneel and sing. The hardest times for us are often the quiet times. That is often a sure sign that something is very wrong. It is hard to hide non Christian behavior when it is only ourselves and the Lord. Those are the times when our consciences are telling us: I’m lost. Maybe, I shouldn’t even be here.

But we are here. We are in Church, in this great parish. Perhaps when we walked through the doors of the Church we have taken the first step to see who this Jesus is. Walking through the doors of the Church is, for many, like climbing the sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus. We certainly don’t expect Jesus to single us out from the crowd of worshipers. But he does. For sure he does. He stands under the tree that every single person has climbed in his life, the tree that many of us are still looking down from, and he says, “Judy, Frank, Shirley, Bill, Zacchaeus, come down from there.  I want to stay in your house tonight and from now on.”

Now, we are faced with what is really an easy decision: do we want Him in our house? It is going to cost us. We are going to have to abandon that which has no place in our house, in our lives. But it is an easy decision. Nothing can surpass the all encompassing joy of having Jesus in our lives.

We may have been lost in a crowd. But he searched for us and called to us. And we responded. And we have found ourselves in Jesus Christ. This is simply…Amazing Grace! ■

[1] Sunday 31st October, 2010, 31ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME. Readings: Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God—Ps 144(145):1-2, 8-11, 13-14. 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2. Luke 19:1-10.
[2] Cfr John 10:1-30

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris