Theme: JESUS THE SAVIOR SEEKS OUT AND SAVES THE LOST SINNER
- Wisdom 11:22-12:2;
- Psalm 144:1-2. 8-11. 13-14. R/ cf. v. 1; 2
- Thessalonians 1:11- 2:2
- Luke 19:1-10
1. Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus the Savior seeks out and saves the lost sinner! In other religions man seeks God; but in Christianity, God seeks man! Because the Christian God is a God of love!
The gospel today tells us that Jesus invited himself to stay with Zacchaeus at Zacchaeus’ house! More importantly, the gospel tells us that Zacchaeus was converted by Jesus, so much so that he promised to give half of his possessions to the poor and if he had cheated anyone he will pay him back fourfold! After his conversion, Zacchaeus practiced Justice and Charity! There can be no Peace without Justice and there can be no Justice without Charity! Most importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus the Savior seeks out and saves the lost sinner! Thus we read in the gospel:
“For the Son of Man has come to seek out and save what was lost.” (Lk 19:10; SM)
The gospel today reminds us of the parable of the lost sheep where the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine sheep to look for the one lost sheep! (Lk 15:4) This also reminds us of what Nicky Gumbel said in the Alpha Course, that is, even if you are the only one in the world Jesus will still die for you! Thus the Gospel Acclamation today:
“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16; SM)
2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord loves us and saves us! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Yet you are merciful to all, because you can do all things and overlook man’s sins so that they can repent. …. Little by little, therefore, you correct those who offend, you admonish and remind them of how they have sinned, so that they may abstain from evil and trust in you, Lord.” (Ws 11:23. 12:2; SM)
The first reading also tells us that the Lord does not only love and save sinners, but the Lord also loves, preserves and provides for his creation! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you? You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all.” (Ws 11:24-12:1; SM)
The New Jerusalem Bible notes that, “Never before had the universality of God’s compassion for sinners, and the decisive role of love in the creation and preservation of beings been expressed with such force or in dialectical form.”
3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm gives praise to God for his love and compassion towards his creation and invites the whole community and the whole of creation to praise God for his love and compassion towards his creation!
The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza from which the response is taken gives praise to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza tells us that we praise God because he is loving and compassionate towards his creation (vv. 8-9). The third stanza invites the whole community and the whole of creation to praise God (vv. 10-11). And the fourth stanza echoes the second stanza in which we praise God for his love and compassion, especially towards the weak and afflicted (vv. 13-14). (HCSB)
4. The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians so that they will live their Christian life of faith in a God of love, and of loving one’s neighbor, even in times of persecution! (2 Th 1:3-4; IBC) Thus we read in the second reading:
“We pray continually that our God will make you worthy of his call, and by his power fulfill all your desires for goodness and complete all that you have been doing through faith; because in this way the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in you and you in him, by the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Th 1:11-12; SM)
Today we also pray that we may live our Christian life of faith in a God of love, and of loving our neighbor, even in times of persecution!
The second paragraph of the second reading tells us not to be deceived by predictions of the Parousia, that is, the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must not be preoccupied with the Parousia, but we must be preoccupied with living our Christian life of faith in a God of love, and of loving our neighbor, even in times of persecution!
5. Today we thank God for his love in Creation (Father), for his love in Salvation (Son), and for his love in Sanctification (Holy Spirit)! And we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit so that we can continue to love God in faith and love our neighbor in good works, even in times of persecution! God bless you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.