| Wisdom 11: 22 – 12: 2 | 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 12:2 | Luke 19: 1-10 | 31 Ordinary C’13 |
Scripture Readings: Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 11.03.2013
The magnificent explosion of autumn leaves has ended. It is November – the month in which we surround ourselves with images of the saints, those publicly recognized, and those of our own families, friends and parish. This month recalls to us the countless people who lived good and faith-filled lives, Christians, people of Islam, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists — all those now numbered among the “Holy One’s” held forever in God’s embrace –“The Communion of Saints.”
The author, Norman Mclean was a Scotch-Presbyterian. He had an intuitive sense of what we in our Catholic household of faith name “The Communion of Saints.” Recently I reread Mclean’s novel, “A River Runs Through It.” This powerful story weaves fly-fishing, regret for a lost time and a lost brother, and our shared struggle with human mortality into the fabric of a story in which we recognize our own lives are woven.
At the story’s end, grieving his brother’s death, the author muses,
“it is those we live with and love and should know who elude us.
Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young
are dead, but I still reach out to them.”
During this month of November, I invite you to ponder the words in his final paragraph.
“Eventually, all thing merge into one, –and a river runs through it.
The river was cut by the world’s great flood — and runs over rocks from
the basement of time. On some of the rocks are — timeless raindrops.
Under the rocks are the words, — and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.”
My intention in this homily is to connect all of this with the text of Luke’s gospel. Zacchaeus is all of us. He was a tax collector and not popular among his peers. He was wealthy but not tall and apparently felt spiritually insecure. He ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a sycamore tree.
Zacchaeus is all of us! He was an unfinished mystery yearning to be wanted, loved and safe. His life, like yours and mine, and like all of those who have gone before us, was unfinished, untidy. We are buffeted by circumstances that threaten us. Since the dawning of human consciousness, our ancestors, and now we, have struggled with the meaning and inevitably of death. We are tormented by and struggle with the problem of evil.
Imagine Zacchaeus hidden high up in the bark and branches of the tree. He felt he was out of view and free of the social prejudices and harassment from his peers. Oops! How wrong he was. Jesus invites him, “Zacchaeus, come down for I must stay at your house today!”
According to Luke, Zacchaeus hurries down from the tree and welcomes Jesus to his home. Jesus then said to him, “today salvation has come to this house.”
“Salvation” means being liberated and empowered. As he did for so many, Jesus empowered and freed Zacchaeus to be fully human and fully alive. Now Zacchaeus knows he’s safe, wanted, and needed. He changes the way he sees life. He no longer thinks only of his money, but also of the suffering of others. He changes the way he lives; he will do justice to those he has exploited and share his possessions with the poor.
Luke is describing Zacchaeus’s transformation. The key is for him to know he is safe, wanted and needed. Zacchaeus is all of us!
It is November and we celebrate the Communion of Saints. I think Norman Mclean’s book about fishing on the Blackfoot River provides a great mantra for our November reflection.
“Eventually, all thing merge into one, –and a river runs through it.”