Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday word, 30 Oct 16

Thirty-first Sunday of the Year C (30 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Receiving Salvation
We beg for the grace to know Jesus with greater intimacy and to follow him more closely. It is important for me to beg for that because too easily I let my vision wander from Jesus. His vision never wanders from me: Jesus gazes on me lovingly even when I am not loving; Jesus attends to me when I care not a wit about him and our friendship; Jesus welcomes me to join him and his mission even when I become absorbed in the world and its standards of success.

It is not easy to be aware of Jesus constant, faithful loving way with us. Jesus embodies God’s heart now just as Jesus embodied God’s heart when he walked throughout Galilee and made his way to Jerusalem. Jesus embodied the heart of God, of whom scripture proclaimed: you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made. I easily forget that because I can love only those who love me.1 That human disposition leaves me desperate for God’s love and care, though God always extends both to me each moment.

When we acknowledge our moments of desperate need we are closer to those who streamed to Jesus and followed him in growing numbers as he journeyed to Jerusalem. Those who opposed Jesus from the be-ginning opposed him more zealously as the watched the crowds swell—all manners of people seeking to meet Jesus. I imagined I was in the crowd. It is hard to describe; it was like this: I felt no sympathy for Jesus.

Instead, I felt great satisfaction when I noticed Zacchaeus climb the sycamore tree. The little puppet of Roman power! One less on the ground was an opening in this idolatrous crowd, trailing Jesus like so many other self-styled messiahs. Climb, you little twit! I breathe easier with you out of his sight! God is no lover of the Romans, nor of you, you calculating sinner! To my horror Jesus stopped beneath that sycamore and looked up at Zacchaeus! Jesus had the awful pleasure of one more admirer!

Then Jesus admired Zacchaeus as a descendant of Abraham. So am I! Of a sudden all felt changed; I was no longer observing but hearing everything Jesus said spoken directly to me. Salvation has come to me; it is a gift I do not deserve, certainly cannot give to myself—though I long thought I could earn it. This Prophet has come to seek and to save what was lost. I am lost. In ways very different from Zacchaeus and other public sinners. As Zacchaeus and Jesus went off to his house Jesus nodded knowingly at me.

That is the best way I can describe entering the gospel scene. No dramatic conversion; nor a peak prayer experience. It did draw me closer to my Creator and Redeemer. It deepened my awareness of Jesus constantly, faithfully loving me into existence. Above all, it made me more willing to welcome love and share it with others in action and in choices I have the opportunity to make.

Ease into your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week by
  • Resting yourself in in the invitation the Trinity extends to you: “We love you because we create you each moment.”
  • Ask Zacchaeus, who longed to see who Jesus was, help you notice Jesus addressing you.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for creating you and inviting you to be refashioned more like him; ask him to help you feel more deeply his faithful love.
  • Consider one way you can extend his faithful love and resolve to do.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Each time we pray it, it re-imprints within us Jesus’ way and our salvation in him.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Luke 6.31-36.


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