31st Sunday – Ordinary Time [C]

The 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Wis 11:22—12:2  +  2 Thes 1:11—2:2  +  Lk 19:1-10
October 30, 2016

“…but he could not see Him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.” 

Out of the 52 Sundays of the year, thirty-plus are Sundays in Ordinary Time.  When we reach these “Thirty-something” weeks, we know that the Church’s year is drawing to a close.  During these final weeks, the Church focuses on what are called “the Last Things”:  that is, those realities that we associate with the end of the world.  Of course, there’s never a shortage of prophets predicting that the end of the world is near.

Nonetheless, the Gospel today is not dramatic or apocalyptic.  It’s a simple story about Jesus and a fellow of short stature named Zacchaeus.  The simplicity of this story helps us, though, relate to it.  We can be impressed or even awed by dramatic stories about the end times, but it’s hard—once we return to the ordinary grind of daily life—to convince ourselves that those stories have anything to do with us.  But the story about Zacchaeus is easier for us to relate to because it’s so humble.

Jesus says something to Zacchaeus that he was wanting to hear.  In the last sentence of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus offers Zacchaeus hope.  Zacchaeus knew that he was coming up short in life, but he didn’t know if Jesus would offer him what he was lacking.  But in the last sentence of today’s Gospel passage, Jesus does.  Jesus proclaims, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

What was lost?  The human soul, or in other words, the heart of the human person was lost.  In Zacchaeus’ case, he admits honestly that the way that he has been leading his life has been sinful.  If you and I, also, can have the honesty and humility of Zacchaeus, the Lord Jesus will dwell with us.  But it demands a two-part admission.  Number 1 is admitting that apart from God, our souls are lost.  Number 2 is admitting that Jesus has come here for us, “to seek and to save what was lost.”

All of this can help us as we renew our committee to parish stewardship.  It would be good for us to consider ourselves as Zacchaeus:  to consider the many ways in which we, also, are “small” in the Lord’s sight, but not overlooked.  By the sharing of our gifts, we share in Jesus’ work of seeking and saving what was lost.

More to the point, as we discern what particular ways we’ll pledge this year to offer our talents, a distinction might help us.  We ought to distinguish between our “developed talents” and our “latent talents”.  In our modern culture, we’re taught to play to our strengths.  But our Christian Faith plays to our weaknesses, also.  Perhaps there’s a latent talent that you’ve never exercised before, yet which our Lord wants you to offer Him through your parish family.

In other words, maybe this is the year that you, like Zacchaeus, ought to go out on a limb.