Reflection by Fr. Ed Liptak, SDB
The readings this thirty-first Sunday ‘C’ again speak loudly of the Divine Mercy. The Lord is indeed the all -powerful Creator, “But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent,” says the Book of Wisdom. We love to think of God good and merciful and often forget that sin is detestable to God We tend to forget that he wants us to repent. Truly, the reason he is so ready to forgive is because he is the source of all mercy. He loves what he has created. He is “LORD and lover of souls.” He reminds faulty human beings “of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in you, O LORD!”
God forgives because he desires our salvation. Thus, the Responsorial Psalm repeats, “I will praise your name forever, my King and my God!” What better scrap of Sacred Scripture could be more in tune than that at the Alleluia Verse before the Gospel? “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life “(Jn 3:16). Yes, God’s Love and Mercy are so easy to contemplate!
At the Gospel, the Father’s desire for us to repent of our sinfulness and be saved is aptly brought to our attention by St. Luke’s portrayal of Jesus and the wealthy ‘chief tax collector,’ Zacchaeus. Jesus intended only to pass-through Jericho on his way to his saving sacrifice in Jerusalem. But he noticed Zacchaeus in the tree all eager to see him, rich and sinful though he was, and Jesus called out to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
The sinner responded with ‘joy,’ and contrary to the scorn of the Pharisees, that day he turned his curiosity and eagerness to know Jesus into true repentance: “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” (Lk 19:9).
And WE! When will we be moved by the Jesus whose message and name confront us so often? He keeps revealing himself through the Gospels, and he is eager to come to us. We need to invite him to stay with us, we need to disown sin, and we need to pray humbly and fervently, as the Publican of last Sunday. Here now in Zacchaeus is yet another sinner. The God of Love and Mercy responds to his repentant soul.
How many invitations do we need to turn a corner in our lives and dedicate ourselves more fully to know the Lord better and to walk more closely with him on our way to Eternal Life?