31ST SUNDAY HOMILY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C – 30 OCTOBER 2022
HOMILY THEME: ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS.
BY: Rev Fr Stephen Oladayo Osinkoya.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Beloved in Christ, God expresses his love for man through mercy. He continues to love those who have gone astray. His love seeks to draw us patiently back to him, through a loving correction that involves we making amendments of our sinful ways. The Book of Wisdom describes how God´s love for what he has created becomes a redemptive love through mercy.
In the Gospel Reading we are given the example of Zacchaeus as a proof of this. Zacchaeus is a model for us. We have one thing in common with Zacchaeus: like him, we are all sinners and therefore are in need of salvation.
There are some Christians who have no faith in God or themselves. They are deeply insecure people with very low self-esteem. They have no faith in God, but neither do they believe in the ability they are endowed with.
Because they have failed so many times in life they feel so discouraged and disappointed with themselves, thinking that nothing good can come from them. As a consequence, they give up completely, believing they cannot do anything perfectly. They give up trying, since no matter what and how they try, they just don’t seem to be making a headway. Because of their incapacity to live up to their expectation in life and in faith, they keep away from the Church, they stop receiving communion and stop going to the sacrament of reconciliation and then withdraw from having a relationship with Christ. As they distance themselves from Christ, they fall deeper into sin and things just don’t get better for them still. Despair is a terrible evil. It leads to a complete giving up on ourselves.
Unfortunately, such people find it difficult to believe and accept that God is patient with them, forgiving all the time and that God loves them even more for the trying; He only looks at their humble efforts, sincere intentions, goodwill and not the results.
The first reading reminds us that although we are insignificant, “like a speck that tips the scales, like a drop of morning dew falling on the ground”, yet God counts us important. We exist only because we are important in His eyes.
In life, there are so many things preventing us from a total encounter with Jesus Christ, things that dwarf our mentality, and things that hinder our success in life. But what efforts do we make to overcome these? If we make frantic efforts as Zacchaeus did to catch a glimpse of Jesus, He himself will also see us. Therefore we must rise above all obstacles that prevent us from this necessary divine encounter. Paul advised Timothy thus: “Do not to allow any one look down on you because you are young” (I Tim 4, 12).
We are invited in our liturgy today to emulate the humility of yet another tax collector, Zacchaeus. Despite his wealth and position as chief tax collector, he did not allow that to add to his problems. His Problems are; the crowd and his height disadvantage, as well as bad reputation for being a tax collector. Instead, he sought to catch a glimpse of Christ and humbly climbed a sycamore tree.
Beloved in Christ, there’s nobody without limitations and weaknesses, just as there’s nobody with a disability without some capability.
Humility helps us to accept who we are and our short-comings. However, it does not prevent us from trying to overcome our shortcomings. Instead, it spurs us to search for other godly means through which we can achieve success in life in spite of all the odds against us.
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Zacchaeus’ humility is worth emulating. He acknowledged the fact that he was too short, in fact, dwarfed by the crowd and so, could not contend with them for space. He did not go causing trouble or picking quarrel with anybody for blocking him, like most of us would do, even inside the church. No! Rather, he decided to explore other avenues at his disposal. As difficult as it was, he decided to climb a sycamore tree just to get what he wanted because he knew its value and how much it would benefit him
Also, it is important to note that an encounter with Jesus will not leave us the same. It must cost us something! It must make us shed some weight and drop some heavy burdens that prevent us from having smooth movement along the journey of life. Therefore, like Zacchaeus, we must reassure the Lord of our willingness to turn a new leaf in life and say: “…If I have cheated anybody I will pay him back four times the amount…!” If we do this sincerely from our heart, then Jesus Christ in turn will say to us: “Today salvation has come to this house…
If we want to have our lives changed, we have to give up the self-delusion that we can change our life by ourselves. Only God can change our live. And He can do it just as easily as He changed the life of Zacchaeus, all we need to do is to climb the sycamore tree of FAITH!
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