Homily 31st Sunday of Year C: Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Wisdom 11:22–12:2; Ps 145:1-2,8-11,13-14; 2 Thes 1:11–2:2 and Luke 19:1-10
God’s Mercy Draws Us to him
God does not judge any of us as we deserve. Rather, he loves us. He shows us compassion, kindness, mercy and forgiveness. With this he expects us to abandon evil doings and return to Him.
This merciful and loving- nurtured God is consistent from creation. God lovingly created man and woman out of nothing, as narrated in the Book of Genesis. Even when man fell as we saw in the activities of Cain and Abel, the story of the Tower of Babel, the flood of Noah, God initiated again the call Abraham and established a unilateral covenant relationship with humanity (Gen 12ff). This covenant of love, peace and rest follow God’s people in the deserts, in exiles and throughout the entire history of salvation. The first reading of today (Wisdom 11:22–12:2), written about 50 years before the time of Christ, affirms this loving, and forgiving nature of God.
The point of this wisdom reading is that whenever we experience difficulties, and sufferings, even some spiritual dryness, as some of the Israelite did at some point and time in their lives, we should remember that nothing happens without the knowledge of God. God is constantly watching over us. And nothing remains or dies unless God wills it (Wis 11:25). Even when we make mistakes, God rebukes us little by little. God’s goals are that sinners may abandon bad ways and return to Him (Wis 12:1-2). His intention is not to demolish us, in spite of our brokenness.
None of us is perfect, God often uses weak instruments: Abraham, Jacob some of the Judges, Rahab the prostitute, Moses, and the Prophets. Even Paul who was once a persecutor of the faith was converted to a promoter of the faith and all that God has done for us in the name Christ, to whom we are constantly called to glorify ( 2 Thes 1:11–2:2). For God so much loved us that he sent Christ to us, so that everyone believes in him might have eternal life (John 3:16).
The doors of this eternal life are 24 hours opened to everyone and every race: white and black, man and woman, young and old, rich and poor of all nations. Conversion is not too late. This is true in the case of Jesus' encounter with Zaccheaeus in today’s Gospel (Luke 19:1-10). The context of this encounter of course is still that of a traveling Jesus to die for us in Jerusalem, began as far back as Luke 9:51.
Jesus has come to pass through Jericho. It is an important city. It is a town far below sea level, close to the Jordan River. It’s a city known for commerce and trade. King Herod once had a palace here. Mark Anthony once gave Jericho to Cleopatra as a present. With the power God,Joshua and his trumpeters had brought down its walls.
It was quite a historic city that Jesus has come to pass- by. Crowds have noticed not only the physical but the divine presence of Christ. They are eager to see him. In this crowd was a short wealthy man, and a tax collector, known as Zacchaeus. He put his wealth aside and climbed a tree in order to catch a glimpse of the Messiah. Rather, the Messiah caught a glimpse of his total person and invited him to come down for a new life in Christ. Despite grumblings from the crowd they proceeded to Zaccheaes’ house. Perhaps they had a meal there, conversations about everything, and prayers. But within this context Luke tells us Zacchaeus was converted, and salvation came to his entire household, since the son man came to seek and save what was lost( Luke 19:1-10).
Sometimes we feel lost in our sins, poverty, joblessness, anger, racism, inordinate use of power politics, abuse of wealth and our sexuality. But the good news is that wherever you are and whatever you are doing God is looking out for you. It is never too late to come back to Jesus! You might be sleeping, saying the rosary or climbing the tree like Zacchaeus- God’s love and his saving mercy is waiting for us. Please, come down from the Tree and be saved.