2013-11-03, 31st C, Interruptions

Homily 11-03-13,
31st Sunday Ordinary Time C
Wis 11:22-12:2; Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14; 2 Thes 1:11-2:2; Lk 19:1-10

(Scriptures included after homily)

JerichoThere is one small aspect of this story of Zacchaeus that tends to be overlooked, when we focus on his conversion and his salvation.

We hear it in the very first line of today’s Gospel reading, where it says that Jesus came to Jericho “intending to pass through the town.”

Now, I’m not sure about you guys, but when I’m on the road heading for a remote destination, there’s not a whole lot that I would allow to interrupt our progress; save for an occasional refueling or maybe an emergency potty break for the kids.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that I’m not keenly observant of all the wondrous beauty and action going on outside the car, as we drive. 

I just don’t like to stop!

And I can already see all the wives shaking their heads, and the dads nodding in agreement.

You see, Jesus had an important destination as well.  He was heading for Jerusalem.  And we all know the events that would transpire there (His trial, passion and crucifixion).  Yet, Jesus was also very observant of all that was going on around Him.  As a matter of fact, it was exactly – WHAT was going on around Jesus, that took priority over everything else.

zacchaeus-and-JesusAnd the Gospels are filled with story after story of common people, just like you and me, who Jesus would allow to interrupt His journey.  Stories like that of Bartimaeus the blind man, who cried out to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mk 10:46-52), or the hemorrhaging woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ cloak for healing (Mk 5:25-36).  Like the woman at the well (Jn 4:4-26), or the ten Samaritan lepers (Lk 17:11-19).  And then there was good old Zacchaeus.

You see, in one way or another, all of those people were lost.  They were outcasts because of the nature of their job, or their infirmity, or because of something they may have done or said to exclude them from their community.  And when they heard that Jesus was a friend to the needy, they were willing to cast everything aside in order to catch a glimpse, or touch a hem, or receive a blessing from Jesus.

conversionYou see, these were the very people who lit up the radar of Jesus, in the midst of the crowds.  And not only would He ‘stop the car’ for them, but He would spend the whole afternoon or evening with them as well.  And in every case, there would be a dramatic conversion in the hearts of these outcasts.  In the process, Jesus would gain an extremely zealous disciple, who would spread His Word to others, like wildfire.

You know, brothers and sisters in Christ, sometimes we might get to feeling lost just like Zacchaeus; when, nothing we seem to do or say is ever right; when our friends have all abandoned us; the cost of living is drowning us; and the road has become so muddied by the immorality of the world that we’re not even sure which way is forward.

And yet, Here we are!

And we hear Jesus telling us that “the Son of man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”  And we’re wondering where He might be, as we’re staring out our windows, going 70 miles an hour.

You see, here we are, standing at the foot of that sycamore tree, or sitting at the well, waiting for a miracle.  But the miracle is not out there.  It’s in here (heart).  It’s within our very own hearts.  And it might just take climbing out on that limb, or dropping that bucket down the well to find it.

Hugs 3When we can stop the car long enough, pocket our cell phones, turn off our TVs or our computers and reach out a hand instead, then who we’ll find reaching two hands and a hug, back to us, in return, is the very miracle we were searching for all along.

It’s Jesus!

And if we don’t even know where to start reaching, besides our own families, and our schools, and our workplaces, then come on in a little closer and get to know our Church.  She’s just bursting to see our faces and show us His Way.  A Way of Love, a Way of Mercy, a Way of Hope.  The Way of Jesus.

jmp 11-03-13

Interruptions from Joey Papa on Vimeo.

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 11-03-13
Thirty-first Sunday, Ordinary Time C

First Reading: Wis 11:22-12:2

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.  But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.  And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?  But you spare all things, because they are yours, O LORD and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!  Therefore you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them and remind them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14

R. I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.
I will extol you, O my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever. Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.
R.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
R.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD, and let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.
R.
The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works. The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
R.

Second Reading: 2 Thes 1:11-2:2

Brothers and sisters: We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

We ask you, brothers and sisters, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling with him, not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a “spirit,” or by an oral statement, or by a letter allegedly from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is at hand.

Gospel: Lk 19:1-10

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. 

When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  And he came down quickly and received him with joy.  When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”  But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” 

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

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