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Homily – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
Wisdom 11:22-12:2
2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Luke 19:1-10
November 3, 2013

Zacchaeus was seen as a sinner.  He was a tax collector and tax collectors were known for their extortion.  In those days, extortion was almost expected but yet still was stealing and thus broke the commandment.  To add to his bad reputation, he was the chief tax collector, taken as a sign that he was amongst the worst of the sinners.

Yet when Zacchaeus heard Jesus was coming, he very much wanted to see Jesus.

Of course, there were great crowds around Jesus.  Zacchaeus was short and he couldn’t see Jesus through the crowds.  If Zacchaeus was such a terrible person, he probably won’t have cared about seeing Jesus.

But he did care!  His interest in seeing Jesus was strong enough to motivate him to climb the sycamore tree.  Since he was short, climbing the tree might have been a great effort and certainly would not be something a person with the position of chief tax collector would do.  It would be embarrassing.

When he does so, it is Jesus who first speaks to him and tells him he will stay at his house.  Shocking!  Jesus associating with a sinner.

Zacchaeus is so moved as to offer half his possessions to the poor and to repay any extortion four times over.  Clearly, he is sorry for anything he has extorting and turns his heart to Jesus.

Zacchaeus may be short in physical height but now he shows a huge amount of faith.

We all know what it is like to be short in physical health.  We all start out short as little babies.  To relate to how Zacchaeus struggled to see Jesus through the crowds, all any of us has to do is remember our own childhood and going to a parade.  If we weren’t in the front, we missed the entire parade.

We grow up, not all to the same size, but to whatever height we “inherited.”  In God’s eyes our physical height doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if we are four-foot six or six feet nine.

God is infinite.  We are finite creatures.  No matter how big we are physically, we are nothing compared to God… nothing compared to God.

We might wonder if that is exactly how God looks at us.  Do we seem like nothing to God?  If we feel like God isn’t answering our prayers, we might think God doesn’t care because we are nothing.

Not hardly.  We are created by God and God does not create anything He does not love.

Sometimes it is hard for us to be aware of God’s love.  When we have done something wrong we might think we are not worthy of God’s love.  We are worthy of God’s love but only because God makes us worthy.

We might think if we just behave a little better, then God will love us.  Sometimes, when people realize they keep committing the same sins over and over, they stop going to Confession, thinking they will try and change.  If they do better, they will go to Confession.  Till then, why bother?

Why bother?  Because God is the one who can make us worthy.  We must do our part but we need God’s help.

We are called by God to do great things but we can only accomplish such greatness when we are humble enough to realize we can’t do it by ourselves.  We need God’s help.

We need God’s help in different ways.  Maybe we aren’t big enough physically to do something.  God may help us by giving us a friend or co-worker who is.

We won’t have all the skills we need but God will send us people who do, working together, have what it takes.

Do you think you know everything you need to about our faith?  Well, you probably don’t but if you think you do, then your heart may be closed to learning more about God.

God can only help us when we realize and accept what we are lacking.  If we think we have everything it takes, we close ourselves off to God and to others.

Humility.  Only when we admit that we are short in stature do we allow God to do great things in us.  We need to stop trying to be great ourselves and just try to be faithful.  Then God will make us great.

 

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