The psalm used today is a psalm of great joy. ‘I will bless your name for ever, O God my King.’ What could encourage the ancient peoples who wrote this and sang it so joyfully? How do we obtain that joy? The answer is the compassion of the Lord. We see examples of this compassion and the love of God in the scriptures used today.
The Book of Wisdom talks about God’s mercy and why God is merciful. This recognition that God created us and wants the best for us. The truth is that God refuses to be horrified by us, stating ‘for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it.’ Quite the contrary as it continues ‘Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend’. God continues to work in us even when we are seemingly distant from Him. This persistence to bring us back to Him is something beyond our human understanding.
We see an example of this in today’s Gospel. St Luke, who as well as being an Evangelist was also a doctor and an artist paints a slightly comical picture, which is easy to imagine for us. We have Zacchaeus, a short man, probably a bit overweight, and we hear that he was a senior tax collector; so he was not a young man. Zacchaeus casting his dignity to the side, climbs a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus. His curiosity has captured him and he acts, totally out of character for someone of his position in society.
When Zacchaeus climbed the tree, it was an act of faith. When Jesus called him by name and he responded, his conversion was conceived. ‘Little by little, therefore you correct those who offend.’ Jesus wanted to go to Zacchaeus’ house, is what the witnesses heard; however, Jesus was actually entering Zacchaeus’ heart as he gently admonished Zacchaeus and reminded him how he had sinned, just as the reading from the book of Wisdom says God does for us.
Zacchaeus responded just like the writer of the psalm, He committed himself to Jesus, committed to repaying anyone he had swindled and committed to serving the poor. Zacchaeus’ conversion was complete. He would praise God for ever recognising God as his King.
Today, it is us who have been commissioned by God to share His word. Through our baptism we are called to spread God’s Word, we confirmed our acceptance of this through our Confirmation.
As we walk through the streets of our town, who is there that wants to metaphorically ‘climb a tree’ to get a better view of what we are doing?
Who is there hoping we see them, for us to call them to God?
Our Church is not just about coming along every Sunday and feeling good because we have kept our Sunday obligation. We are called to be missionary disciples; Jesus needs every one of us to reach out in faith to save others.
Bishop Philip, in his draft document You will be my Witnesses, says “This is a new age; we are in missionary territory.” In the document he reminds us of the decline in attendances, the decline in those being baptised, married and of the predicted decline in the number of men coming forward for the priesthood. This is a call to action and the first steps we need to take are similar to the response Zacchaeus gave to Jesus; we need to come down from watching curiously from the side and let Jesus enter our heart, commit fully to Jesus and work with the Church to bring people closer to Jesus.
In my journey, there have been times when I have sat at the side and let others get on with it. Those times are not joyful times, I ended up resentful and at times complaining at why they didn’t do it this way or why didn’t they think of such and such. By sitting at the side and commenting afterwards, I denied friends and parishioners my input, in effect I was not using the gifts God gave me. Right now, our Diocese needs to use all of the gifts God has given us including the gifts God has given me and you. There will be opportunities to get involved in the Parish response to the draft document ‘You will be my Witnesses.’ Please look out for those opportunities and join in with the Parish response.
From St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians we hear St Paul say to them that the prayers of the Church are that ‘God will make you worthy of his call and fulfil all your desires for goodness and complete all that you have been doing through faith; because in this way the name of our Lord will be glorified in you and you in him, by the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ This prayer applies equally to us today as we decide whether to watch from the side or get involved. As does the question Jesus asks everyone in our diocese at this time “Will YOU be my witnesses?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 293-294, 299, 341, 353: the universe created for God’s glory
CCC 1459, 2412, 2487: reparation
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Peace in the world, especially Ukraine, Russia and Iran
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- All those working in Parishes and the Diocese on the ten year plan
- The five children being baptised this weekend in Holy Ghost Parish Aien, Gabriella, Oliver, Hunter and Archer.