Readings & Homily – Sunday 30 October 2022

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Sunday, 30 October 2022
Sunday of Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Readings on p. 1418 and Antiphons on p. 1414 of the Daily Missal and on p. 991 of the Sunday Missal.

Entrance Antiphon.

Forsake me not, O Lord, my God; be not far from me! Make haste and come to my help, O Lord, my strong salvation!

First Reading: Wisdom11:22 – 12:2

A reading from the Book of Wisdom.

Lord, the whole world before you
is like a speck that tips the scales, |
and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.
But you are merciful to all, for you can do all things,
and you overlook men’s sins, that they may repent.
For you love all things that exist,
and you loathe none of the things which you have made,
for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.
How would anything have endured if you had not willed it?
Or how would anything not called forth by you
have been preserved?
You spare all things, for they are yours,
O Lord you love the living. 
For your immortal spirit is in all things.
Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass,
and remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin,
that they may be freed from wickedness
and put their trust in you, O Lord.

The Word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145:1-2.8-11.13cd-14 (R. see 1)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm 

R/. I will bless your name forever, my king and my God.

I will extol you, my God and king,
and bless your name forever and ever.
I will bless you day after day,
and praise your name forever and ever.

The Lord is kind and full of compassion,
slow to anger, abounding in mercy.
How good is the Lord to all,
compassionate to all his creatures.

All your works shall thank you, O Lord,
and all your faithful ones bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your reign,
and declare your mighty deeds.

The Lord is faithful in all his words,
and holy in all his deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall,
and raises up all who are bowed down.

R/. I will bless your name forever, my king and my God.

Second Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians.

Brothers and sisters:

We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his call,
and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith
by his power,
so that the name of our Lord Jesus
may be glorified in you, and you in him,
according to the grace of our God
and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
and our assembling to meet him,
we beg you, brethren,
not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited,
either by spirit or by word
or by letter purporting to be from us,
to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

The Word of the Lord.

Please stand for the Gospel.

Alleluia, Alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should have eternal life.
Alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 19:1-10

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke.

At that time:
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
And there was a man named Zacchaeus;
he was a chief tax collector, and rich.
And he sought to see who Jesus was,
but could not, on account of the crowd,
because he was small of stature.
So he ran on ahead and
climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him,
for he was to pass that way.
And when Jesus came to the place,
he looked up and said to him,
“Zacchaeus, make haste and come down;
for I must stay at your house today.”

So he made haste and came down,
and received him joyfully.
And when they saw it they all murmured,
“He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord,
“Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor;
and if I have defrauded anyone of anything,
I restore it fourfold.”

And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
since he also is a son of Abraham.
For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

Communion Antiphon.

You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, O Lord.

HOMILE

There is a story about a local gym that was offering R1 000 to anyone who could demonstrate that they were stronger than the owner of the place.

  • Here is how it worked.
  • This muscle man would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and then hand the lemon to the next challenger.
  • Anyone who could squeeze just one more drop of juice out, would win the money.
  • So many people tried over time – other weightlifters, construction workers, rugby players, professional wrestlers, but nobody could do it.
  • One day, a short and skinny guy came in and signed up for the contest.
  • After the laughter died down, the strongman grabbed a lemon and squeezed away.
  • Then he handed the wrinkled remains to the little man.
  • The crowd’s laughter turned to silence as the man clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glass.
  • As the crowd cheered, the owner of the gym paid out the winning prize and asked the short guy what he did for a living.
  • “Are you a weightlifter, or what?”
  • The man replied, “I work for the SARS.”
  • Today’s Gospel describes the conversion of a Jew who worked for the first-century Roman SARS.

And Zacchaeus is his name.

  • Zachaeus is a popular name these days. The son of my nephew who lives in Cape Town is called Zachaeus – or Zach for short.
  • The name Zacchaeus means “the righteous one.”
  • The Zachaeus in the gospel story today certainly wasn’t considered righteous in the eyes of other Jews.
  • As a “chief tax collector” he was quite the opposite.
  • He is described as a wealthy man.
  • Reflect on how he earned all his wealth.
  • Tax collectors paid the Romans for the license to collect taxes in a certain town or area.
  • Since they were from the same population, they would know the financial status of those from whom they collected taxes.
  • Once tax collectors got permission to collect taxes, they would pay the amount the Romans had levied and then collect the taxes.
  • A chief tax collector would have hired henchmen for the task.
  • The system was rife with opportunities for corruption since anything collected over the levied amount would go to the tax collector.
  • These tax collectors were considered leeches, sucking the blood from the already over-stressed and burdened population – unlike how we consider SARS today!
  • Since Zacchaeus was rich, we can presume he had made more than his fair share off the backs of his poor neighbours.

That’s the starting point for this story.

  • Zacchaeus’ name must have sounded ironic to his Jewish neighbours, for he certainly wasn’t pure, or righteous, as his name implied.
  • Before the story is over however, Jesus will affirm Zacchaeus’ identity as a “descendent of Abraham.”
  • The locals must have been outraged by Jesus’ calling him by that term!
  • If Zacchaeus were a true child or descendent of Abraham, they would have reasoned, he would have been compassionate to his fellow Jews and not entered into contract to take taxes from them to give to the murderous occupying Romans – nor to keep more than his fair share for himself.
  • When the story ends we note a big change in Zacchaeus;
    • he is a completely different person from the one we meet at the beginning,
    • for after his encounter with Christ, Zacchaeus really does become a true Israelite –
    • he gives half his possessions to the poor and returns more than he has taken from those he has extorted.
  • He really is a “descendent of Abraham.”

We can speculate why Zachaeus was out there trying to get a glimpse of Jesus.

  • I guess he merely curious, and so his “seeking to see who Jesus was,” just an attempt to see someone with a big reputation.
  • He was probably hoping to get an opportunity to see Jesus do something spectacular – cure another leper, open the eyes of a blind person, or feed all the hungry in the town.
  • We don’t know.
  •  But Jesus looked up into the eyes of Zachaeus in the tree.
  • Jesus looked into his soul – and Zachaeus is transformed for ever.
  • He tells Zacchaeus that he is to hurry down so Jesus can eat in his house, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”

Why “must” Jesus stay in Zacchaeus’ house?

  • Well, the first reading from Wisdom gives a clue:
    • our God, the all powerful Creator (before whom “the whole universe is as a grain from a balance….”),
    • is personally concerned about each of us.
  • This concern is not like a general interest over God’s handiwork;
    • rather, God is personally involved in the world God has made.
  • God, in his transcendent nature, is passionate about us, a “lover of souls.”
    • (“O Lord, and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things.”)
  • So, when Jesus walked through Jericho that day, he was simply doing what God does and expressing what God feels for us.
  • Jesus manifested God’s love for what God had made and when even one creature is lost, God goes out of God’s way to bring that one back.
  • Jesus puts it this way, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

How does the all powerful Creator and Supreme Being manifest great power?

  • By being merciful.
  • That’s not how our world shows power; but God isn’t governed by how we expect power to be shown.
  • The Wisdom and Gospel readings show a clear link:
    • if God’s “imperishable spirit is in all living things,”
    • then that spirit is even in the sinner Zacchaeus
    • and Jesus is out to show how God wants to deal with sinners.
    • God deals with them by showing them mercy.
  • God has a loving eye fixed on Zacchaeus, the work of God’s hands, and God does not want to lose him.

It is Jesus, the Son of God, who invites Zachaeus to return to God.

  • Jesus invites Zacchaeus to join him as a guest in Zacchaeus’ own house!
  • While we may have built the church building in which we are celebrating the Eucharist,
    • set the sanctuary and are about to bring our bread and wine to the altar,
    • let’s not forget that we are simply the guests at a meal set by a very hospitable God
    • It is God through and in Jesus, who has come out looking for us to invite us in.
  • For that we celebrate this feast of thanks.

What will happen when we leave here today?

  • Will we too be more fully accepting of those closest to us?
  • Will we search out and find the ones our world does not extend a welcome to;
    • who might these be in our community and how can we welcome them?

From today’s Gospel reading:

Now a man named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was,….

So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus
who was about to pass that way.

Reflection:

Zacchaeus wasn’t perfect – he was unfinished, scattered and incomplete. But God’s Spirit had nudged him to leave his home that day and become a seeker. He thought he was just going to see Jesus with his eyes. But a lot more happened to him because Jesus saw Zacchaeus’ hunger and entered his life and the life of his family.

So, we ask ourselves:

  • Have I, like Zacchaeus, ever had a longing that sent me out on a spiritual quest?
  • How does that quest affect my life now?
  • Have I given up that quest?

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